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robertogreco : edreform   74

We’re Having the Wrong Conversation About the Future Of Schools
"Despite the rhetoric, modern movements to reform schools have had a devastating effect on education"



"As a full-time teacher, I don’t have a lot of time to look up from the dailiness of the job to consider something as nebulous as the “future” of education. When I do, I feel a vague unease that too many non-teachers seem to have a lot of time to do this kind of thinking.

One thing in my favor is that education reform seems to take the same basic forms, year after year. There’s the standards and accountability movement and the ongoing attempts to give it “teeth.” Then there are the tech giants peddling autonomy and self-direction in lieu of soul-crushing activities like reading The Outsiders and using protractors. And though the latter reformers are often critics of the former, the two have a lot in common.

Both represent billion-dollar industries. Both frequently co-opt a rhetoric of liberation, autonomy, and empowerment. Both can barely disguise a deep disdain for teachers and schools, especially of the “sage on the stage” variety. And both are almost exclusively headed up by white men.

These are the kind of people setting a bold agenda for the future of education.

Admittedly, us unruly American educators would have a hard time coming up with anything coherent enough to compete with the brave visions set forth by the leaders of these two industries. The very fact that such an all-encompassing solution is needed testifies to their dominance in framing the narrative around American schools. Mired in the day-to-day challenges and complexities of actually caring for and educating children, many teachers exhibit a complete failure of imagination when it comes to sweeping monolithic initiatives with pithy acronyms, eye-catching logos, and font pairings that are straight fire.

But we do need to change. Beyond the usual Alice Cooper-type critiques, we teachers have been especially complicit in the widespread marginalizing, neuroticizing, and criminalizing of our most vulnerable students. Yes, we need to stop boring future white rockstars and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. This is already well known. But, more importantly, we also need to stop harming children of color with our whitewashed curriculum, inequitable funding systems, and disparate use of punitive disciplinary measures.

Can today’s reformers help us make progress toward these goals? Or do they exacerbate, perpetuate, and contribute to the very problems we face?

Trying to pin deception, manipulation, and violence on this rag-tag bunch leaves me feeling petty and mean-spirited. After all, they’re often so upbeat and sincere, their rhetoric so humanistic and progressive. Ted Dintersmith, former venture capitalist and billionaire author of the book What School Could Be, recently teamed up with Prince Ea, who has made not one but two viral videos echoing the same message: schools must change. And on the standards and accountability side, David Coleman, “architect” of the Common Core and now CEO of the College Board, has boldly laid out a “beautiful vision” for American schools. In a field plagued by widespread mediocrity and entrenched inequities, shouldn’t we applaud any moves toward a more inspiring, inclusive future?

The problem is that, despite all the rhetoric and good intentions, both these movements have had a devastating effect on education, all while continually escaping blame for their outsized impact. Any negative outcomes are used to justify further expansion and dominance. Poor test scores and persistent achievement gaps aren’t seen as issues with the tests, but as misalignment and implicit bias on the part of teachers. Student attention deficit and boredom aren’t seen as a function of technology addiction, but rather an occasion to blast schools for their inability to fully capitalize on the promise of the digital age.

Not surprisingly, this seeming unassailable innocence reveals close links to the logics of white supremacy culture, especially the values of individualism, objectivity, and so-called meritocracy. They additionally amplify neoliberal beliefs in the absolute goods of privacy and consumer choice, thus shifting the blame away from dominant elites under the guise of “empowerment.” To borrow the central metaphor from Todd Rose’s The End of Average, they ultimately seek to style us as fighter pilots in the “cockpits of our economy,” where we must summon limitless initiative, grit, and resourcefulness just to survive.

Ultimately, their ideas are rooted in America’s original “solutions” to the problems of pluralism, wherein subtle self-effacement and silencing became stratagems for consolidating power. All of this is part of a long tradition in the United States, one that dates back to colonial times, guiding both the “Strange Compromise” of 1789 and the founding of the Common School. Although these roots may be less obvious in our day, they are arguably more powerful and moneyed than ever before."



"Ultimately, the several silences of education reform have proven a powerful gambit for privatization and profit. These industries implicitly offer themselves as neutral alternatives to our fraught political climate, much as Horace Mann’s enjoinder to “read without comment” secularized schools in a sectarian age. They also shift the onus of agency and ownership from themselves onto the student, who assumes full responsibility for finding and following their own educational path.

Whereas Mann, perhaps unconsciously, hoped to indoctrinate students into his supposedly doctrineless Unitarianism, these reformers peddle the so-called empty doctrines of individualism, personalization, objectivity, entrepreneurialism, and meritocracy—all while exacerbating inequities and deprofessionalizing teachers.

Resisting these trends starts by seeing them as two sides of the same coin. Anything that counsels and valorizes silence—before the text, the test, or even the individual student—may partake in this phenomenon. The primary effect is always to atomize: content into itemized bits, classrooms into individualized projects and timelines, and each of us into solitary individuals pursuing personalized pathways.

Among the many omissions implicit in this vision is the notion that each student has equal access to a pathway of choice. Once that false premise is established, you are truly on your own. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps, find your own personal road less traveled, dive headfirst into the entrepreneurial shark tank. Unfortunately, far too many smaller-scale reform movements espouse a similar ethos, often flooding Twitter with a toxic positivity that ignores intransigent inequities and injustices."



"None of this is intended to romanticize the educational mainstays of the past: lectures, textbooks, worksheets. But we should note how these more modern trends themselves often devolve into regressive, behaviorist, sit-and-get pedagogy.

Confronted by daunting challenges like widespread budget shortfalls, inequitable funding, increasing school segregation, whitewashed curriculum, and racial injustice, it’s no wonder we would reach for solutions that appear easy, inexpensive, and ideologically empty. At a time when we most need to engage in serious deliberations about the purposes and future of schools, we instead equivocate and efface ourselves before tests and technology, leaving students to suffer or succeed within their own educational echo chamber.

As appealing as these options may seem, they are not without content or consequences. Ironically, today’s progressive educators find themselves in the strange position of having to fight reform, resisting those who would render everything—including their own intentions and impact—invisible."
arthurchiaravalli  education  edreform  reform  history  invisibility  progressive  siliconvalley  infividualism  horacemann  2018  collegeboard  individualism  personalization  commonschool  us  inequality  justice  socialjustice  injustice  race  racism  whitesupremacy  reading  hilarymoss  thomasjefferson  commoncore  davidcoleman  politics  policy  closereading  howweread  ela  johnstuartmill  louiserosenblatt  sat  standardizedtesting  standardization  tedtalks  teddintersmith  democracy  kenrobinson  willrichardson  entrepreneurship  toddrose  mikecrowley  summitschools  religion  secularism  silence  privatization  objectivity  meritocracy  capitalism  teaching  howweteach  schools  publicschools  learning  children  ideology  behaviorism  edtech  technology  society  neoliberalism 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Carol Black on Twitter: "THREAD Brief tutorial in why innovations in institutional education always "fail.""
"THREAD

Brief tutorial in why innovations in institutional education always "fail."
2. First ask yourself: Why does the existing education system consistently fail a large percentage of kids?

(Aside from the obvious issues of poverty, inequity, racism, trauma.)

3. The existing system fails because one size does not fit all. One size will never fit all. There is nothing that you can do on this earth that will work for everybody.

4. The existing public system fails the kids who don’t fit the demands of the existing system. Kids who are too high-energy, too independent, too creative, too introverted, too extraverted, too rebellious.

5. So you work, and work, and make changes to the system. You open it up, you make it accommodate students who are more high-energy, more independent, more creative.

6. And it still fails for a large percentage of kids. Maybe a slightly smaller percentage. Maybe a slightly larger percentage. But it still fails for a lot of kids.

Why?

7. Because one size does not fit all. One size will never fit all. There is nothing that you can do on this earth that will work for everybody.

8. So you say, “We need to get back to basics! What kids need is high expectations! None of this “progressive” nonsense! What kids need is direct instruction and accountability!”

9. So you work, and work, and make changes to the system. You create lengthy lists of standards, you identify the knowledge and skills that kids need to master, you test them to make sure they’re mastering those skills.

10. And it still fails for a large percentage of kids. Maybe a slightly smaller percentage. Maybe a slightly larger percentage. But it still fails for a lot of kids.

Why?

11. Because one size does not fit all. One size will never fit all. There is nothing that you can do on this earth that will work for everybody.

12. So you say, both of these models are too extreme! What we need is a balanced education that has some freedom of choice but also a rich curriculum with high standards!

13. So you work, and you work, and make changes to the system. You come up with project-based models, you have “genius hour” on Fridays, but you also have a full standards-based system with testing and accountability.

14. And it still fails for a large percentage of kids. Maybe a slightly smaller percentage. Maybe a slightly larger percentage. But it still fails for a lot of kids.

Why?

15. Because one size does not fit all. One size will never fit all. There is nothing that you can do on this earth that will work for everybody.

16. So here’s an idea: maybe we need to stop trying to find the One Best Way of Educating All Children.

Maybe we need to recognize that children are different, they will always be different, and it’s a good thing that they’re different.

17. Maybe we need to recognize that the child who will grow up to be a jet pilot, and the child who will be a poet, and the child who will be a chef in a fast-paced restaurant, and the child who will be a forest ranger, and the child who will be a research scientist +

18. + and the child who will be a finish carpenter, and the child who will be a software engineer, and the child who will be a kindergarten teacher, and the child who will be a firefighter, are really different children, and they may need different approaches to education.

19. They need different amounts of social stimulation and quiet time. Different amounts of freedom to explore and structured instruction. Different amounts of feedback and independence. Different amounts of hands-on and text-based learning. Different tools. Different paths.

20. Maybe one child will blossom in a quiet, calm, formal education environment. One child will blossom in a noisy, open, makerspace environment. One child will blossom in an outdoor, nature-based environment. One child will blossom in a democratic free school.

21. One child will blossom by homeschooling or unschooling and apprenticeships in the wider community. One child will blossom with a combination of these.

22. And before you say it’s not possible to provide all those options, I’d like to point out that it might be more cost-effective to provide a stable array of options in every community than it is to overhaul and “reform” the whole system from decade to decade.

23. (Might not be as profitable for Pearson, though!) 🤔

24. But that’s just the cost in money. The cost in children’s lives when a child is stuck for twelve years in an educational environment they simply can’t thrive in –– when a child fails, day after day after day, year after year after year — it’s unfathomable.

25. Because one size does not fit all. One size will never fit all. There is nothing that you can do on this earth that will work for everybody.

Because people are different, people will always be different, and it’s a good thing that they’re different.

26. When can we start looking at education this way?"

[Also here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/975766319600615424.html ]
carolblack  education  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  onesizefitsall  unschooling  deschooling  diversity  options  learning  children  howwelearn  howweteach  schools  schooling  edreform 
march 2018 by robertogreco
The Limits of “Grit” - The New Yorker
"For children, the situation has grown worse as we’ve slackened our efforts to fight poverty. In 1966, when Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty initiatives were a major national priority, the poverty rate among American children was eighteen per cent. Now it is twenty-two per cent. If we suffer from a grit deficiency in this country, it shows up in our unwillingness to face what is obviously true—that poverty is the real cause of failing schools.

In this context, grit appears as a new hope. As the federal programs stalled, psychologists, neuroscientists, pediatricians, education reformers, and journalists began looking at the lives of children in a different way. Their central finding: non-cognitive skills play just as great a role as talent and native intelligence (I.Q.) in the academic and social success of children, and maybe even a greater role. In brief, we are obsessed with talent, but we should also be obsessed with effort. Duckworth is both benefitting from this line of thought and expanding it herself. The finding about non-cognitive skills is being treated as a revelation, and maybe it should be; among other things, it opens possible avenues for action. Could cultivating grit and other character traits be the cure, the silver bullet that ends low performance?"



"Now, there’s something very odd about this list. There’s nothing in it about honesty or courage; nothing about integrity, kindliness, responsibility for others. The list is innocent of ethics, any notion of moral development, any mention of the behaviors by which character has traditionally been marked. Levin, Randolph, and Duckworth would seem to be preparing children for personal success only—doing well at school, getting into college, getting a job, especially a corporate job where such docility as is suggested by these approved traits (gratitude?) would be much appreciated by managers. Putting it politically, the “character” inculcated in students by Levin, Randolph, and Duckworth is perfectly suited to producing corporate drones in a capitalist economy. Putting it morally and existentially, the list is timid and empty. The creativity and wildness that were once our grace to imagine as part of human existence would be extinguished by strict adherence to these instrumentalist guidelines."



"Not just Duckworth’s research but the entire process feels tautological: we will decide what elements of “character” are essential to success, and we will inculcate these attributes in children, measuring and grading the children accordingly, and shutting down, as collateral damage, many other attributes of character and many children as well. Among other things, we will give up the sentimental notion that one of the cardinal functions of education is to bring out the individual nature of every child.

Can so narrow an ideal of character flourish in a society as abundantly and variously gifted as our own? Duckworth’s view of life is devoted exclusively to doing, at the expense of being. She seems indifferent to originality or creativity or even simple thoughtfulness. We must all gear up, for grit is a cause, an imp of force. “At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.” Through much of “Grit,” she gives the impression that quitting any activity before achieving mastery is a cop-out. (“How many of us vow to knit sweaters for all our friends but only manage half a sleeve before putting down the needles? Ditto for home vegetable gardens, compost bins, and diets.”) But what is the value of these projects? Surely some things are more worth pursuing than others. If grit mania really flowers, one can imagine a mass of grimly determined people exhausting themselves and everyone around them with obsessional devotion to semi-worthless tasks—a race of American squares, anxious, compulsive, and constrained. They can never try hard enough.

Duckworth’s single-mindedness could pose something of a danger to the literal-minded. Young people who stick to their obsessions could wind up out on a limb, without a market for their skills. Spelling ability is nice, if somewhat less useful than, say, the ability to make a mixed drink—a Negroni, a Tom Collins. But what do you do with it? Are the thirteen-year-old champion spellers going to go through life spelling out difficult words to astonished listeners? I realize, of course, that persistence in childhood may pay off years later in some unrelated activity. But I’m an owlish enough parent to insist that the champion spellers might have spent their time reading something good—or interacting with other kids. And what if a child has only moderate talent for her particular passion? Mike Egan, a former member of the United States Marine Band, wrote a letter to the Times Book Review in response to Judith Shulevitz’s review of Duckworth’s book. “Anyone who would tell a child that the only thing standing between him or her and world-class achievement is sufficient work,” Egan wrote, “ought to be jailed for child abuse.”

Duckworth not only ignores the actual market for skills and talents, she barely acknowledges that success has more than a casual relation to family income. After all, few of us can stick to a passion year after year that doesn’t pay off—not without serious support. Speaking for myself, the most important element in my social capital as an upper-middle-class New York guy was, indeed, capital—my parents carried me for a number of years as I fumbled my way to a career as a journalist and critic. Did I have grit? I suppose so, but their support made persistence possible.

After many examples of success, Duckworth announces a theory: “Talent x effort = skill. Skill x effort = achievement.” It’s hardly E=mc2. It’s hardly a theory at all—it’s more like a pop way of formalizing commonplace observation and single-mindedness. Compare Duckworth’s book in this respect with Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers.” Gladwell also traced the backgrounds of extraordinarily accomplished people—the computer geniuses Bill Gates and Bill Joy, business tycoons, top lawyers in New York, and so on. And Gladwell discovered that, yes, his world-beaters devoted years to learning and to practice: ten thousand hours, he says, is the rough amount of time it takes for talented people to become masters.

Yet, if perseverance is central to Gladwell’s outliers, it’s hardly the sole reason for their success. Family background, opportunity, culture, landing at the right place at the right time, the over-all state of the economy—all these elements, operating at once, allow some talented people to do much better than other talented people. Gladwell provides the history and context of successful lives. Duckworth—indifferent to class, race, history, society, culture—strips success of its human reality, and her single-minded theory may explain very little. Is there any good football team, for instance, that doesn’t believe in endless practice, endurance, overcoming pain and exhaustion? All professional football teams train hard, so grit can’t be the necessary explanation for the Seahawks’ success. Pete Carroll and his coaches must be bringing other qualities, other strategies, to the field. Observing those special qualities is where actual understanding might begin."
grit  2016  angeladuckworth  race  class  luck  perseverance  daviddenby  education  mastery  practice  kipp  character  classism  elitism  obsessions  malcolmgladwell  serendipity  mikeegan  judithshulevitz  capital  privilege  success  effort  talent  skill  achievement  history  culture  society  edreform  nep  pisa  testing  standardizedtesting  nclb  rttt  socialscience  paultough  children  schools  poverty  eq  neuroscience  jackshonkoff  martinseligman  learnedoptimism  depression  pessimism  optimism  davelevin  dominicrandolph  honesty  courage  integrity  kindliness  kindness  samuelabrams 
june 2016 by robertogreco
TFA Cannot Downsize Itself Free of Alumni Concerns– Especially Diversity Displacement | deutsch29
"TFA is a teacher temp agency that then tries to place its former temps in strategic and powerful positions in order to advocate for test-score-driven ed reform. Of course many people will not approve, and that disapproval could be strongly expressed on the likes of Twitter, Facebook, and blogs."



"And the list continues to grow. What is important to note is that an emerging concern with TFA is that even though it maintains that its recruits are ethnically and racially diverse, those recruits are displacing teachers of color whose lives are grounded in communities in which those revolving-door, “diverse” TFA recruits are landing."



"TFA has a problem, and it is one that image polish, a gentle Bellwether report, and a “leaner, more agile central structure” cannot fix. A growing number of former TFAers are voicing their discontent with the damage TFA inflicts upon community-rooted education, discontent that will likely only increase over time.

Watch out, Goliath. You might not make it past this one."
tfa  education  2016  edreform  mercedesschneider  diversity  policy  teaching  teachforamerica 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Small Schools: The Edu-Reform Failure That Wasn't - Education Week
[paywalled, available in PDF here: http://www.holycross.edu/sites/default/files/files/education/jschneider/small_schools_commentary.pdf ]

"But were small schools really the problem? A decade later, we have fairly robust evidence suggesting otherwise. A 2014 study by the nonpartisan research organization MDRC, for instance, found that graduation rates in New York City improved by 9.5 percent at small schools, with effects across every student group—a tremendous increase that also led to higher college enrollments. Another study, by a team at Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research, found similar increases in high school graduation rates in Chicago's public schools, despite the fact that small schools generally served a more disadvantaged population in the city.

As it turns out, small schools do exactly what you might expect. Smallness can create more opportunities for young people to be known, both by one another and by the adults in the building. The relative intimacy of small schools can foster trusting, caring, and attentive relationships. Deborah Meier, the godmother of the small-schools movement, consistently made this argument in the 1980s and 1990s when explaining the importance of size. As she put it in a 1989 op-ed essay, small schools offer young people better opportunities to learn forms of participation" necessary to becoming a member of a democratic society." But they are, at best, only one piece of a complex puzzle. And early proponents of small schools were clear about that. As Meier, who also writes an opinion blog for Education Week, prudently observed: "Small schools are not the answer, but without them none of the proposed answers stand a chance.""
small  slow  smallschools  education  educationreform  edreform  2016  via:lukeneff  jackschneider  deborahmeier  smallness  reform  schools  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Limits of Education Reform: A Road Paved With the “Best Intentions”? | tressiemc
"Class-based solutions to racial inequality stress resource investment and allocation to achieve equality in opportunity. The implicit assumption is that assuming any racial differences in outcome after equal opportunity is achieved can be attributed to individual abilities. This is one of Barack Obama’s most strident arguments, by the way. From the head to the tail of American discourse, the idea of class based universal reforms as redress for racism is viewed as pragmatic. Lewis and Diamond point to several measures of the idea’s pervasiveness in media and political discourse. In a slightly different but wholly related guise, the argument continues unabated with recent dialogue about Bernie Sanders’ racial street cred versus given his rejection of economic reparations. Ta-Nehisi Coates recently wrote Sanders’ refutation of economic reparations for blacks is indicative of the kind of liberal politics of a “rising tide lifting all boats”. Coates condemns this thinking as irrationally hopeful, at best, saying that, “treating a racist injury solely with class-based remedies is like treating a gun-shot wound solely with bandages.” Agree or not with Coates’ artful assessment of class-based solutions as comprehensive redress for racist harm, he is right that this kind of rhetoric is pervasive in our political discourse. Nowhere is that more true than in our discourse, politics, and national obsession with racial inequality and schooling.

The entire strategy of federal, state and local education policy since at least 1971 when the Supreme Court decided Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education has quickly devolved into strategies to substitute nominal class redress for racial redress. Scholars have noted that white districts across the U.S. immediately began challenging the landmark Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka decision. In many critical ways, Swann gave federal district courts the tools of school desegregation that would infuriate and mobilize white families, school boards, and districts for years to come: busing, teacher reassignment, and student assignments based (at least in part) on achieving racial parity. The resulting challenge for white parents hell bent on maintaining the best for “their kids” and the political class that needs to be re-elected was to critique the tools of school resource allocation while maintaining a rhetorical allegiance to racial equality. For at least twenty years that rhetoric has stressed the kind of liberalism Coates critiques and that Lewis and Diamond show still very much animates formal school policy.



In subsequent chapters, Lewis and Diamond argue that racial differences are reproduced at Riverview through three key mechanisms. One, disparities in quantity and quality of disciplinary treatment mean that black students are more frequently punished for behaviors similar to white students and the punishments are more punitive. That’s in keeping with national data on in school and out of school suspension that shows black students is more harshly punished in schools, resulting in missed days, disrupted learning, and declining teacher investment. Two, the classic issue of academic differentiation of “high” and “low” tracks within one school raises its head in chapter four. Within school tracking is a primary tool for social control of black students. It is also a tool for managing of black parent’s socio-political agitation for greater access to “good schools”. Tracking also has a less discussed ideological value. It also allows good people in good neighborhoods with good schools to support “diversity” in principle without making meaningful changes to how schools operate most efficiently for white families. Third, Lewis and Diamond indict white parents’ “opportunity hoarding”. Opportunity hoarding is a popular concept in the study of what Charles Tilly called categorical inequalities, or the marked group identities that pattern our social world. Lewis and Diamond argue similarly to others that “well meaning” white parents use their superior cultural and economic capital to divert school resources to the high tracks where their children are disproportionally enrolled and the school rewards white parents’ cultural and economic capital as superior to black parents’."
education  edreform  reform  schools  tracking  race  inequality  diversity  intentions  2016  tressiemcmillancottom  hierarchy  integration  civilrights  arneduncan  barackobama  l'heureuxlewis-mccoy  linnposey-maddox  sociology  amandalewis  johndiamond  class  policy  us 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Kindergarten Has Become the New First Grade - The Atlantic
"Pendulum shifts in education are as old as our republic. Steven Mintz, a historian who has written about the evolution of American childhood, describes an oscillation in the national zeitgeist between the notion of a “protected” childhood and that of a “prepared” one. Starting in the early 2000s, though, a confluence of forces began pushing preferences ever further in the direction of preparation: the increasing numbers of dual-career families scrambling to arrange child care; a new scientific focus on the cognitive potential of the early years; and concerns about growing ability gaps between well-off and disadvantaged children, which in turn fueled the trend of standards-based testing in public schools.

Preschool is a relatively recent addition to the American educational system. With a few notable exceptions, the government had a limited role in early education until the 1960s, when the federal Head Start program was founded. Before mothers entered the full-time workforce in large numbers, private preschools were likewise uncommon, and mainly served as a safe social space for children to learn to get along with others.

In the past few decades, however, we have seen a major transfer of child care and early learning from home to institution: Nearly three-quarters of American 4-year-olds are now in some kind of nonfamily care. That category spans a dizzying mix of privately and publicly funded preschool environments, including family-run day cares, private preschools in church basements, and Head Start programs in public elementary schools, to name a few. Across all of them, the distinction between early education and “official” school seems to be eroding.

When I survey parents of preschoolers, they tend to be on board with many of these changes, either because they fear that the old-fashioned pleasures of unhurried learning have no place in today’s hypercompetitive world or because they simply can’t find, or afford, a better option. The stress is palpable: Pick the “wrong” preschool or ease up on the phonics drills at home, and your child might not go to college. She might not be employable. She might not even be allowed to start first grade!

Media attention to the cognitive potential of early childhood has a way of exacerbating such worries, but the actual academic consensus on the components of high-quality early education tells another story. According to experts such as the Yale professor Edward Zigler, a leader in child-development and early-education policy for half a century, the best preschool programs share several features: They provide ample opportunities for young children to use and hear complex, interactive language; their curriculum supports a wide range of school-readiness goals that include social and emotional skills and active learning; they encourage meaningful family involvement; and they have knowledgeable and well-qualified teachers.

As an early-childhood educator, I’ve clocked many hours in many preschool classrooms, and I have found that I can pretty quickly take the temperature from the looks on kids’ faces, the ratio of table space to open areas, and the amount of conversation going on in either. In a high-quality program, adults are building relationships with the children and paying close attention to their thought processes and, by extension, their communication. They’re finding ways to make the children think out loud.

The real focus in the preschool years should be not just on vocabulary and reading, but on talking and listening. We forget how vital spontaneous, unstructured conversation is to young children’s understanding. By talking with adults, and one another, they pick up information. They learn how things work. They solve puzzles that trouble them. Sometimes, to be fair, what children take away from a conversation is wrong. They might conclude, as my young son did, that pigs produce ham, just as chickens produce eggs and cows produce milk. But these understandings are worked over, refined, and adapted—as when a brutal older sibling explains a ham sandwich’s grisly origins.

Teachers play a crucial role in supporting this type of learning. A 2011 study in the journal Child Development found that preschool teachers’ use of sophisticated vocabulary in informal classroom settings predicted their students’ reading comprehension and word knowledge in fourth grade. Unfortunately, much of the conversation in today’s preschool classrooms is one-directional and simplistic, as teachers steer students through a highly structured schedule, herding them from one activity to another and signaling approval with a quick “good job!”

Consider the difference between a teacher’s use of a closed statement versus an open-ended question. Imagine that a teacher approaches a child drawing a picture and exclaims, “Oh, what a pretty house!” If the child is not actually drawing a house, she might feel exposed, and even if she is drawing a house, the teacher’s remark shuts down further discussion: She has labeled the thing and said she likes it. What more is there to add? A much more helpful approach would be to say, “Tell me about your drawing,” inviting the child to be reflective. It’s never possible to anticipate everything a small person needs to learn, so open-ended inquiry can reveal what is known and unknown. Such a small pedagogic difference can be an important catalyst for a basic, but unbounded, cognitive habit—the act of thinking out loud.

Conversation is gold. It’s the most efficient early-learning system we have. And it’s far more valuable than most of the reading-skills curricula we have been implementing: One meta-analysis of 13 early-childhood literacy programs “failed to find any evidence of effects on language or print-based outcomes.” Take a moment to digest that devastating conclusion.

I was recently asked to review a popular preschool curriculum that comes with a big box of thematic units, including lists of words and “key concepts” that children are supposed to master. One objective of the curriculum’s ocean unit, for example, is to help preschoolers understand “the importance of the ocean to the environment.” Children are given a list of specific terms to learn, including exoskeleton, scallop shell, blubber, and tube feet. At first glance, this stuff seems fun and educational, but doesn’t this extremely narrow articulation of “key concepts” feel a little off? What’s so special about blubber, anyway? Might a young child not want to ponder bigger questions: What is water? Where do the blue and green come from? Could anything be more beautiful and more terrifying than an ocean?

The shift from an active and exploratory early-childhood pedagogy to a more scripted and instruction-based model does not involve a simple trade-off between play and work, or between joy and achievement. On the contrary, the preoccupation with accountability has led to a set of measures that favor shallow mimicry and recall behaviors, such as learning vocabulary lists and recognizing shapes and colors (something that a dog can do, by the way, but that is in fact an extraordinarily low bar for most curious 4-year-olds), while devaluing complex, integrative, and syncretic learning.

Last year, I observed some preschoolers conversing about whether snakes have bones. They argued at length among themselves, comparing the flexible serpentine body with dinosaur fossils and fish, both of which they had previously explored. There was no clear consensus on how these various creatures could contain the same hard skeletons, but I watched, transfixed, as each child added to the groundwork another had laid. The teacher gently guided the group as a captain might steer a large ship, with the tiniest nudge of the wheel. Finally, a little boy who had seen a snake skeleton in a museum became animated as he pantomimed the structure of a snake’s spine in a series of karate chops: “One bone, one bone, one bone,” he informed his friends. “I think we’re all going to have to do a lot more research,” the teacher replied, impressed. This loosely Socratic method is a perfect fit for young minds; the problem is that it doesn’t conform easily to a school-readiness checklist.

The academic takeover of American early learning can be understood as a shift from what I would call an “ideas-based curriculum” to a “naming-and-labeling-based curriculum.” Not coincidentally, the latter can be delivered without substantially improving our teaching force. Inexperienced or poorly supported teachers are directed to rely heavily on scripted lesson plans for a reason: We can point to a defined objective, and tell ourselves that at least kids are getting something this way.

But that something—while relatively cheap to provide—is awfully thin gruel. One major study of 700 preschool classrooms in 11 states found that only 15 percent showed evidence of effective interactions between teacher and child. Fifteen percent.

We neglect vital teacher-child interactions at our peril. Although the infusion of academics into preschool has been justified as a way to close the achievement gap between poor and well-off children, Robert Pianta, one of the country’s leading child-policy experts, cautions that there is “no evidence whatsoever” that our early-learning system is suited to that task. He estimates that the average preschool program “narrows the achievement gap by perhaps only 5 percent,” compared with the 30 to 50 percent that studies suggest would be possible with higher-quality programs. Contrasting the dismal results of Tennessee’s preschool system with the more promising results in places such as Boston, which promotes active, child-centered learning (and, spends more than twice the national average on preschool), lends further credence to the idea that preschool quality really does matter.

It’s become almost a cliché to look to Finland’s educational system for inspiration. As has … [more]
education  pedagogy  learning  literacy  listening  preschool  kindergarten  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  finland  erikachristakis  2015  schools  edreform  conversation  vocabulary  cv  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  directinstruction  schoolreadiness 
december 2015 by robertogreco
CURMUDGUCATION: The Social Justice Argument
"The charter-choice system, as currently conceived and executed, promises a possible maybe rescue for some students while making the vast majority of non-white non-wealthy students pay for it, while simultaneously lulling policy makers into thinking that the problem is actually being solved, all in a system that allows charter operators to conduct business without being answerable to anyone.

The problem (see First Part) is real. The solution being inflicted on public education is making things worse, not better. It is making some folks rich and providing excellent ROI for hedge funders, but neither of those outcomes exactly equals a leap forward in social justice. There's a whole argument to be had about charter booster motives; I figure that some are in it because they believe it will work better and some are in it because they believe it's the last great untapped well-spring of tax dollars. Ultimately, their motivation isn't as important as this: their solution will not actually solve anything.

No, Seriously. Solutions?

Warren Buffet actually suggested one of the best solutions that will never happen-- No Choice At All.
If the only choice we had was public schools, we'd have better public schools.

The point is valid. Far too much of reformsterism looks like an attempt to weasel out of having to pay for education for Those People. If the rich were trapped in schools with Those People, we would have so many resources focused on public school that it would make a scholar's head swim. If charter operators focused all their energy and resources on demanding that public schools be fully funded and completely supported, we'd be in a different situation. Some would most likely say that such solutions are not possible because entrenched bureaucracies and teacher unions and the Big Institutional Blob stand in their way, and as someone who has spent his adult life within just a small-town version of that BIB, I won't pretend that public education doesn't suffer from all sorts of bureaucratically generated nonsense inertia.

But what the reformsters are also complaining about is that when they walk into the room and say, "This is what you should do," the folks in education don't slap their heads and yell, "My God, you're right! We've been so foolish. Here, inexperienced amateur, please tell us what to do!"

They are so absolutely certain that they are right, and that people working in the education field should just listen to them, right now. And that certainty in their own righteous rightness has also stopped progress on the pursuit of social justice.

As rich and powerful people with an interest in education and social justice, they could have gathered together summits of stakeholders, talked to educational experts, brought together people who have worked on these problems their whole lives-- and then listened to all of those folks. They didn't. And now they've largely lost the ability to tell the difference between factors that are part of the actual problem, and factors that just piss off the wealthy and well-connected by thwarting their will.

Yes, the army is losing the battle for educational social justice on many fronts. The solution is not to try to raise an entirely new army, but to support and supply the army you already have in the field. That doesn't mean you just encourage them to keep doing what hasn't worked, but you have to talk to them to understand what's really happening and what they really need.

I'm a high school English teacher. I'm not wise enough to know the solution for an educational social justice solution in this country, and I'm not powerful enough to gather together all the people who could help work it all out. But I know enough to know that A) an increasing gap between rich and poor has exacerbated existing problems of social justice in our country, with those problems being reflected, expressed and sometimes amplified in our schools and that B) the charter choice system currently being foisted on many parts of the country doesn't fix any of those problems.

To charter choice advocates: Your problem is a real problem, but your solution is not a solution. Whether you're blinded by devotion to your ideology or your intent to make a buck or just your lack of understanding, your vision is impaired. You need to clean your glasses, take a step back, and look again."
petergreene  socialjustice  schools  publicschools  education  2015  privatization  policy  warrenbuffet  reform  edreform  capitalism  markets  charterschools 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: Some Post-Reform Education Theses
"The last 15 years have destroyed the intellectual foundation of American education
My favorite example is the argument in favor of teaching science and history for the purpose of improving "literacy." We don't have any working definitions of the core academic disciplines. Or a working definition of a "discipline" or its role in education. The basic definition of education has been hijacked as "college and career readiness," etc., etc. After Vietnam, the US military went back to Clausewitz to try to figure its role out again from first principles. We need to start over with Dewey.

Half-assed technocrats don't cut it.
Educational administrators are always going to tend toward technocracy, but right now we have a generation of terrible, uninterested, uneducated, ideological technocrats. It is the worst case scenario.

The international educational status quo is a decent starting point.
Every system has its strengths and weaknesses, but we don't have to act like we're solving a novel problem, as we have been, even as people go on and on about "international benchmarking."

Be realistic about where we are actually putting in real effort today.
For example, the current conversation about the difficulty of building social capital in low-income neighborhoods. This isn't something we're trying to do and failing. We are barely trying at all. We're not even adequately funding the existing public institutions (libraries, community centers, parks and rec., etc.) in low-income neighborhoods. Why don't we try that first before starting the handwringing?

Fund schools from general funds, not grants, especially private ones.
Some districts will waste their money. Get over it.

The ed-tech market does not work.
Actually the whole educational publishing market doesn't work either.

Enough with the standardized tests.
Professional teachers can evaluate their students. It is their job. They do it all over the world.

AP is a product, not a proxy for quality.
Increased AP enrollment just means the school is moving more product.

It is easy to mislead people about what "we" believed and did just a few years ago.
The memory hole is voracious.

Education can't be the most important problem in the world -- that we can only attempt to fix without spending more money.
Well, it is ok to give money to consultants, charter administration, and real estate scams."
education  policy  us  edreform  schools  teaching  learning  ap  testing  standardizedtesting  johndewey  assessment  funding  money  memory  socialcapital  poverty  ideology  2015  tomhoffman 
june 2015 by robertogreco
CURMUDGUCATION: Can We Rebuild Social Capital?
"Can We Rebuild Social Capital?
I often disagree with his answers, but Mike Petrilli frequently asks excellent questions.

In the recent National Review, Petrilli is spinning off Robert Putnam's latest book about America's children and discussing the idea of social capital. The problem is simple, and clear:"the fundamental reality of life for many children growing up in poverty in America today is the extremely low level of 'social capital' of their families, communities, and schools."

The problem with any deliberate attempt to build social capital, as Petrilli correctly notes, is that nobody has any idea how to do it. Petrilli accuses Putnam of suggesting that we throw money at the problem. Well, I haven't read the book yet (it's on the summer reading list), so I can't judge whether Petrilli's summation is correct or not.

But Petrilli himself offers three strategies for addressing the issue. And as is often the case, while he raises some interesting and worthwhile questions, his line of inquiry is derailed by his mission of selling charters and choice.
1. Invite poor children into schools with social capital to spare.

No, I don't think so. Social capital is about feeling supported, connected, and at home in your own community. You cannot feel at home in your own community by going to somebody else's community.

Schools contribute to social capital by belonging to the community, by being an outgrowth of the community which has significant role in running those schools. Inviting students into schools that are not in their community, that do not belong to those students and their families-- I don't think that gets you anything. Social capital finds expression in schools through things like evening gatherings at the school by people from the community. It depends on students and families who are tied through many, many links-- neighbors, families, friends. It depends on things as simple as a student who helps another student on homework by just stopping over at the house for a few minutes. These are things that don't happen when the students attend the same school, but live a huge distance apart.

Making a new student from another community a co-owner in a school is extraordinarily different. But anything less leaves the new student as simply a guest, and guests don't get to use the social capital of a community.

2. Build on the social capital that does exist in poor communities.

The basic idea here is solid. Putrnam's grim picture aside, poor communities still have institutions and groups that provide social capital, connectedness, support. I agree with Petrilli here, at least for about one paragraph. Then a promising idea veers off into shilling for charters and choice.

Education reformers should look for ways to nurture existing social capital and help it grow. Community-based charter schools are one way; so (again) is private-school choice.

Churches, service organizations (in my neck of the woods, think volunteer fire departments), and social groups (think Elks) are all community-based groups that add to social capital. Unfortunately, as Putnam noted in Bowling Alone, those sorts of groups are all in trouble.

One of the fundamental problems of social capital and these groups is a steady dispersing of the people in the community. People spend too much time spreading out to come together. Spreading them out more, so that their children are all in different schools and no longer know each other-- I don't see how that helps. Social capital is about connection.

3. Build social capital by creating new schools.

Exactly where does a high-poverty community come up with the money to build a new school? The answer, he acknowledges, is for charter operators to come in from outside and create a new school from scratch. He also acknowledges that it's an "open question" whether such schools create any new social capital.

I would also ask if it's really more inexpensive and efficient to spend the resources needed to start a new school from scratch than it is to invest those resources in the school that already exists. Particularly since with few exceptions, that new school is created to accommodate only some of the students in the community. If the community ends up financing two separate but unequal schools, that's not a financial improvement, and it is not creating social capital.

Do we actually care?

In the midst of these three points, Petrilli posits that growing social capital and growing academic achievement (aka test scores) are two different goals that are not always compatible, and we should not sacrifice test scores on the altar of social capital.

On this point I think Petrilli is dead wrong. There is not a lick of evidence that high test scores are connected to later success in life. On the other hand, there's plenty of evidence that social capital does, in fact, have a bearing on later success in life. High test scores are not a useful measure of anything, and they are not a worthwhile goal for schools or communities.

Petrilli's is doubtful that lefty solutions that involve trying to fix poverty by giving poor people money are likely to help, and that many social services simply deliver some basic services without building social capital, and in this, I think he might have a point.

And it occurs to me, reading Petrilli's piece, that I live in a place that actually has a good history of social capital, both in the building and the losing. I'm going to be posting about that in the days ahead because I think social capital conversation is one worth having, and definitely one worth having as more than a way to spin charters and choice. Sorry to leave you with a "to be continued..." but school is ending and I've got time on my hands."
socialcapital  mikepetrilli  petergreene  community  communities  busing  education  schools  testscores  testing  poverty  cityheights  libraries  reccenters  connectedness  support  edreform  reform  robertputnam  society  funding  neighborhoods  guests  connection  academics  inequality  charterschools 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Marc Tucker and the declension myth in American education debates
"It is a tempting story, because it is easier to argue that we have declined from some better point in the past than to explain consistently middling results. But it is the consistency of middling results that is the true history, and there never was a golden age of education in the United States. Tucker’s purported history is pulled from thin air and is wrong on several key points:

• Child poverty and family decline: Child poverty rates declined in the years when divorce was becoming more common (look at the 1960s and 1970s in the poverty-by-age chart from this source). Teen birth rates have declined dramatically in the past quarter-century, and there is pretty good survey evidence that there are other improving trends in risky behaviors for teenagers.3 We should be ashamed at the level of child poverty that exists, but that is a continuing issue rather than something that has dramatically increased in the past 50 years.4

• Grade inflation in high school from parental pressures: There is relatively little peer-reviewed research on high school grade inflation. One 2013 article used transcript data from several national longitudinal studies. Based on transcripts, the authors argue that there has been grade inflation at the secondary level since the early 1970s but that there has not been a huge change in the inferred meaning of grade differences–i.e., if there has been grade inflation, we may not need to be worried about it as a motivator or signal of achievement.

• Grade inflation and lowered standards in college: Tucker’s chronology is all wrong here: if there has been grade inflation in college (see a 2012 article in Teachers College Record), the bulk of the decline in C and D grades happened between the early 1960s and the mid-1970s, with more stable grading patterns for the following 15 years and then a different pattern of inflation since 1990. This does not fit with Tucker’s story: the end of the baby boom hit colleges in the grade-inflation lull, and grade inflation continued during the baby-boom echo’s “traditional age” college years, when the incentives should have reversed.5 Caveat: the 2013 article linked above claims that there is much less evidence of grade inflation in colleges than in high schools.6

• No Child Left Behind pushed states to lower standards for high school students and diverted energy from the standards movement: The mandated test grades in NCLB were 3-8, with one grade in high school (selected by the state). I may be wrong, but my strong impression is that in the years after NCLB’s enactment, most states were obsessed with elementary and middle school accountability much more than in high schools. While many states may have set the proficiency thresholds low because of NCLB, it is hard to argue that most states had accountability systems with higher expectations before NCLB and suddenly dropped those expectations. More to Tucker’s claim about diversion, it is hard to find a proponent of what he calls the standards movement in the late 1990s who was not in favor of NCLB in 2001. Many self-identified reformers have since backed away from NCLB, and we are seeing further backpedaling from Race to the Top with this spring’s test fiascoes. But as Paul Manna and others have written, at the time NCLB was a consensual policy change for those who called themselves as education reformers. If high-stakes testing is a diversion from standards, it was one fully endorsed by the bulk of those in the 1990s standards movement.

• A decline in the status of teachers: In every era, American teachers have been the target of criticism. See Dana Goldstein‘s The Teacher Wars for a recent book on the topic.

• Declining quality of teachers and enrollments in colleges of education: It is hard to parse out the relationship between greater job opportunities for college-educated women and college grads of color, which shrank the pool of potential teachers, and the greater numbers of college attendees with the baby boom, which expanded the pool of potential teachers. The decline in teacher education programs is very recent, essentially since the Great Recession, and is hard to put into a story of declining standards across decades.

• Declining vocational education: The late W. Norton Grubb was brutally honest about the historical failures of vocational education, from its uses in discriminatory tracking to the weak evidence of effectiveness in recent decades. Grubb and Marvin Lazerson’s The Education Gospel (2007) is the right source for this topic. The point is not that one has to agree with Grubb and Lazerson’s policy prescriptions, but that even in a narrow area such as vocational education, there has never been a golden age.

In the past few years, my morale about education policy has been boosted moderately by more recognition of history in education policy discussions, especially in Washington, DC. I thought the major inside-the-Beltway players understood that Dana Goldstein’s The Teacher Wars was mandatory reading, and also possibly Rick Hess’s The Same Thing Over and Over. So let me just put it out there more generally, as the object lesson from Tucker’s columns this month: if you are tempted to argue that there was a golden age of education, you have not read enough education history."
shermandorn  2015  education  history  policy  reform  edreform  nclb  danagoldstein  teaching  teachers  poverty  grades  grading  assessment  gradeinflation  divorce  pedagogy  curriculum  narrative  vocationaleducation  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  schools  publicschools  learning  us  rickhess  marctucker 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The Invented History of 'The Factory Model of Education'
[Follow-up notes here: http://www.aud.life/2015/notes-on-the-invented-history-of-the-factory-model-of ]

"Sal Khan is hardly the only one who tells a story of “the factory of model of education” that posits the United States adopted Prussia’s school system in order to create a compliant populace. It’s a story cited by homeschoolers and by libertarians. It’s a story told by John Taylor Gatto in his 2009 book Weapons of Mass Instruction. It’s a story echoed by The New York Times’ David Brooks. Here he is in 2012: “The American education model…was actually copied from the 18th-century Prussian model designed to create docile subjects and factory workers.”

For what it’s worth, Prussia was not highly industrialized when Frederick the Great formalized its education system in the late 1700s. (Very few places in the world were back then.) Training future factory workers, docile or not, was not really the point.

Nevertheless industrialization is often touted as both the model and the rationale for the public education system past and present. And by extension, it’s part of a narrative that now contends that schools are no longer equipped to address the needs of a post-industrial world."



"Despite these accounts offered by Toffler, Brooks, Khan, Gatto, and others, the history of schools doesn’t map so neatly onto the history of factories (and visa versa). As education historian Sherman Dorn has argued, “it makes no sense to talk about either ‘the industrial era’ or the development of public school systems as a single, coherent phase of national history.”"



"As Dorn notes, phrases like “the industrial model of education,” “the factory model of education,” and “the Prussian model of education” are used as a “rhetorical foil” in order make a particular political point – not so much to explain the history of education, as to try to shape its future."



"Many education reformers today denounce the “factory model of education” with an appeal to new machinery and new practices that will supposedly modernize the system. That argument is now and has been for a century the rationale for education technology. As Sidney Pressey, one of the inventors of the earliest “teaching machines” wrote in 1932 predicting "The Coming Industrial Revolution in Education,"
Education is the one major activity in this country which is still in a crude handicraft stage. But the economic depression may here work beneficially, in that it may force the consideration of efficiency and the need for laborsaving devices in education. Education is a large-scale industry; it should use quantity production methods. This does not mean, in any unfortunate sense, the mechanization of education. It does mean freeing the teacher from the drudgeries of her work so that she may do more real teaching, giving the pupil more adequate guidance in his learning. There may well be an “industrial revolution” in education. The ultimate results should be highly beneficial. Perhaps only by such means can universal education be made effective.

Pressey, much like Sal Khan and other education technologists today, believed that teaching machines could personalize and “revolutionize” education by allowing students to move at their own pace through the curriculum. The automation of the menial tasks of instruction would enable education to scale, Pressey – presaging MOOC proponents – asserted.

We tend to not see automation today as mechanization as much as algorithmization – the promise and potential in artificial intelligence and virtualization, as if this magically makes these new systems of standardization and control lighter and liberatory.

And so too we’ve invented a history of “the factory model of education” in order to justify an “upgrade” – to new software and hardware that will do much of the same thing schools have done for generations now, just (supposedly) more efficiently, with control moved out of the hands of labor (teachers) and into the hands of a new class of engineers, out of the realm of the government and into the realm of the market."
factoryschools  education  history  2015  audreywatters  edtech  edreform  mechanization  automation  algorithms  personalization  labor  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  mooc  moocs  salkhan  sidneypressey  1932  prussia  horacemann  lancastersystem  frederickjohngladman  mikecaulfield  jamescordiner  prussianmodel  frederickengels  shermandorn  alvintoffler  johntaylorgatto  davidbrooksm  monitorialsystem  khanacademy  stevedenning  rickhess  us  policy  change  urgency  futureshock  1970  bellsystem  madrassystem  davidstow  victorcousin  salmankhan 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Defies Measurement on Vimeo
"DEFIES MEASUREMENT strengthens the discussion about public education by exploring why it is so important to address the social and emotional needs of every student, and what happens when the wrong people make decisions for schools.

For information on how to screen this film for others and for resources to learn more and take action, visit defiesmeasurement.com

By downloading this film, you are agreeing to the 3 terms listed below:

1) I will only use portions of Defies Measurement or the whole film for educational purposes and I will NOT edit or change the film in any way. (Educational purposes = viewing a portion or complete version of the film for an individual, private or public event, free of charge or as a fundraiser)

2) I will post a photo or comment about the film and/or screening on the Defies Measurement Facebook page

3) I will spread the word about the film to others via social media and word of mouth. Follow us @defymeasurement #defiesmeasurement"

[See also:
https://www.shineonpro.com/
https://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/115791029088/defies-measurement-via-will-richardsondefies ]
testing  standardizedtesting  nclb  rttt  schools  education  middleschool  chipmanmiddleschool  lindadarling-hammond  alfiekohn  martinmalström  socialemotionallearning  poverty  iq  assessment  policy  howweteach  howelearn  learning  competition  politics  arneduncan  jebbush  measurement  quantification  inequality  finland  us  edreform  tcsnmy  community  experientiallearning  communitycircles  morningmeetings  documentary  film  terrielkin  engagement  meaningmaking  howwelearn  teaching  sylviakahn  regret  sellingout  georgewbush  susankovalik  lauriemclachlan-fry  joanduvall-flynn  government  howardgardner  economics  anthonycody  privatization  lobbying  gatesfoundation  marknaison  billgates  davidkirp  broadfoundation  charitableindustrialcomplex  commoncore  waltonfamily  teachforamerica  tfa  mercedesschneider  dianeravitch  davidberliner  publischools  anationatrisk  joelklein  condoleezzarice  tonywagner  business  markets  freemarket  neworleans  jasonfrance  naomiklein  shockdoctrine  karranharper-royal  julianvasquezheilig  sarahstickle  ronjohnson  alanskoskopf  soci 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Learning from Chile’s Mistakes – Don’t Privatize Public Education | engaged intellectuals
"Thanks to Maureen Downey at the Atlanta Journal Constitution for publishing this essay at http://getschooled.blog.ajc.com/2015/03/24/opinion-national-experiment-in-school-choice-market-solutions-produces-inequity/

What the U.S. Can Learn From Chile:
Failed Educational Experiments and Falsely Produced Miracles
Alfredo Gaete (Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile)
Stephanie Jones (University of Georgia, U.S.)

Imagine a country that was once committed to quality public education, but began to treat that public good like a market economy with the introduction of charter schools and voucher systems. Imagine that after a few years, most students in this country attended private schools and there was public funding for most of such schools, which must compete for that funding by improving their results. Imagine that the state fostered this competition by publishing school rankings, so that parents were informed of the results obtained by each institution. Imagine, finally, that school owners were allowed to charge extra fees to parents, thereby rendering education a quite profitable business.

But let’s stop imagining, because this country already exists.

After a series of policies implemented from the 1980s onward, Chilean governments have managed to develop one of the most deregulated, market-oriented educational schemes in the world. Inspired by the ideas of such neoliberal economists as Hayek and Friedman, the ‘Chilean experiment’ was meant to prove that education can achieve its highest quality when its administration is handed over mainly to the private sector and, therefore, to the forces of the market.

How did they do this?

Basically by creating charter schools with a voucher system and a number of mechanisms for ensuring both the competition among them and the profitability of their business. In this scenario, the state has a subsidiary but still important role, namely, to introduce national standards and assess schools by virtue of them (in such a way that national rankings can be produced). This accountability job, along with the provision of funding, is almost everything that was left to the Chilean state regarding education, in the hope that competition, marketing, and the like would lead the country to develop the best possible educational system.

So what happened? Here are some facts after about three decades of the ‘Chilean experiment’ that, chillingly, has also been called the ‘Chilean Miracle’ like the more recent U.S. ‘New Orleans Miracle.’

First, there is no clear evidence that students have significantly improved their performance on standardized tests, the preferred measurement used to assess schools within this scenario of the free market.

Second, there is now consensus among researchers that both the educational and the socioeconomic gaps have been increased. Chile is now a far more unequal society than it was before the privatization of education – and there is a clear correlation between family income and student achievement according to standardized testing and similar measures.

Third, studies have shown that schools serving the more underprivileged students have greater difficulties not only for responding competitively but also for innovating and improving school attractiveness in a way to acquire students and therefore funding.

Fourth, many schools are currently investing more in marketing strategies than in actually improving their services.

Fifth, the accountability culture required by the market has yielded a teach-to-the-test schema that is progressively neglecting the variety and richness of more integral educational practices.

Sixth, some researchers believe that all this has negatively affected teachers’ professional autonomy, which in turn has triggered feelings of demoralization, anxiety, and in the end poor teaching practices inside schools and an unattractive profession from the outside.

Seventh, a general sense of frustration and dissatisfaction has arisen not only among school communities but actually in the great majority of the population. Indeed, the ‘Penguins Revolution’ – a secondary students’ revolt driven by complaints about the quality and equity of Chilean education – led to the most massive social protest movement in the country during the last 20 years. So even though there still are advocates of the private model of education, especially among those who have profited from it, an immense majority of the Chilean society is now urging the government for radical, deep reforms in the educational system of the country. Very recently, in fact, an announcement was made that public university would be free for students, paid for by a 24% tax on corporations.

The ‘Chilean Miracle’ – like the ‘New Orleans Miracle’ – it seems, is not a miracle of student growth, achievement, equity, and high quality education for all. Rather, it is a miracle that a once protected public good was finally exploited as a competitive private market where profit-seeking corporations could receive a greater and greater share of public tax dollars.

It is also a miracle that such profit-seeking private companies and corporations, including publishing giants that produce educational materials and tests, have managed to keep the target of accountability on teachers and schools and not on their own backs. Their treasure trove of funding – state and federal tax monies – continues to flow even as their materials, technological innovations, products, services, and tests fail to provide positive results.

So we don’t have to guess what the result will be of the current ‘U.S. experiment’ with competition-infused education reform that includes school choice, charter schools, charter systems, voucher systems, state-funded education savings accounts for families, tax credits for “donations” to private schools, state takeover school districts, merit pay, value-added models for teacher evaluation, Common Core national standards, PARCC and Smarter Balanced national tests, edTPA national teacher education evaluations, and federal “rewards” such as Race to the Top for states that come aboard.

Indeed, Chilean education reform from the 1980s to the present provides the writing on the wall, so to speak, for the United States and we should take heed. Chile is now engaged in what will be a long struggle to dig its way out of the educational disaster created by failed experimentation and falsely produced miracles. The United States still has time to reverse course, to turn away from the scary language of crisis and the seductive language of choice and accountability used in educational reform, and turn toward a fully funded and protected public education for our nation."
chile  education  policy  privatization  vouchers  2015  maureendowney  alfredogaete  stephaniejones  markets  neoliberalism  capitalism  libertarianism  publicschools  schools  edreform  inequality  society  charterschools 
march 2015 by robertogreco
How Common Core serves white folks a sliver of the black experience - The Hechinger Report
"The sky hasn’t fallen and the Constitution is still in place, even though most children are taking Common Core tests.

But it’s not a moment to celebrate either.

In Louisiana, administering the first phase of tests aligned with the new state standards to 99 percent of eligible students isn’t exactly like the Freedmen’s Bureau coming to save formerly enslaved blacks. It’s not even saving students from the Tea Party (they’re still complaining about the tests).

Relax. Take it from black and brown children who are used to being tested. Students will overcome. However, privileged adults who aren’t used to being tested may never stop crying.

This curriculum debate will soon taper off, chiefly because Common Core isn’t what’s failing students or teachers. Standards do not threaten the Constitution. However, something radical is happening. Common Core is serving white folks a sliver of the black experience.

I simply can’t manufacture the passion for or against curricula reboots or changes that eventually must happen. I’m sure there’s someone still lobbying for Home Economics as a required course, but gladly most have progressed. The researcher in me can’t argue against wanting a better means to measure educational performance nationwide. However, having the ability to compare performances among groups hasn’t brought educational justice to black and brown students. Still, I know that kids overcome.

I didn’t like how the usual suspects profited politically and financially from the development of the tests – someone other than poor folk usually do. I got a bigger chuckle from ideas of a federal overreach than money-grab claims – but only slightly bigger. I’m trying to remember a time when a cabal of individuals and companies didn’t profit from education reform.



"Black, brown and poor people take tests every single day. Confrontations with police, hunger, unemployment and biased teachers overshadow the feelings of taking computerized tests. Low expectations, a lack of inclusion, a leaky teacher pipeline for communities of color, and punishing disciplinary policies all threaten authentic learning and teaching more than PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests ever will.

For good reason, people in the ’hood have always been more worried with how test results are used.

Consequently, the battle around accountability is real and extremely complex. But it’s easier to shout down Common Core than battle for a viable solution to our accountability problem.
As Sen. Lamar Alexander-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. rewrite No Child Left Behind, they must consider giving teachers the freedom to teach while providing consequences to those districts and schools that don’t provide the education all students deserve.

Hopefully, Sens. Alexander and Murray can wipe away privilege from the bill the way Common Core did."
commoncore  2015  andreperry  testing  assessment  standardizedtesting  edreform  curriculum  us  constitution  policy  parcc  testresults  school  race  accountability 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Hack Education Weekly Newsletter, No. 101
"Every week, I take all the essays and articles that I’ve bookmarked and sift through them in order to craft this newsletter. I’m always struck by how many weird and ridiculous claims are made about education and technology, both in the “mainstream” and industry press. (I don’t know why this continues to surprise me, and the right response, quite arguably, is to neither link to nor write for [http://www.jessestommel.com/blog/files/dear-chronicle.html ] these publications…)

There’s the continuous clarion call for more data collection, more automation, more engineering, more scientific management, and of course more disruptive innovation. These are the narratives loudly trying to shape the future.
Of course, these narratives are intertwined with power and policies. As Alan Jacobs notes [http://blog.ayjay.org/uncategorized/surveillance-and-care/ ], we confuse surveillance with care. We confuse surveillance with self-knowledge, Rob Horning adds [http://robhorningtni.tumblr.com/post/112618248845/your-permanent-record ]:
I don’t think self-knowledge can be reduced to matters of data possession and retention; it can’t be represented as a substance than someone can have more or less of. Self-knowledge is not a matter of having the most thorough archive of your deeds and the intentions behind them. It is not a quality of memories, or an amount of data. It is not a terrain to which you are entitled to own the most detailed map. Self-knowledge is not a matter of reading your own permanent record.

We confuse individuals’ acts of (self-)documentation with structural change and justice. We confuse the “sharing economy” for the latter as well. According to Evgeny Morozov:
The citizens, who are not yet fully aware of these dilemmas, might eventually realise that the actual choice we are facing today is not between the market and the state, but between politics and non-politics. It’s a choice between a system bereft of any institutional and political imagination – where some permutation of hackers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists is the default answer to every social problem – and a system, where explicitly political solutions that might question who – citizens, firms, the state – ought to own what, and on what terms, are still part of the conversation.

It doesn’t help that so many of these narratives comes from “a town without history,” as Mike Caulfield observes in “People Have the Star Trek Computer Backwards.”

[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:450933ec9018 ]
audreywatters  alanjacobs  robhorning  evgenymorozov  2015  surveillance  care  education  edtech  mikecaulfield  data  datacollection  management  scientificmanagement  self-knowledge  caring  permanentrecords  permanentrecord  records  justice  socialhustice  hierarchy  patriarchy  siliconvalley  edreform  technosolutionism  politics  policy  control  power  citizenship  civics  legibility  documentation  assessment  accountability  sharingeconomy  jessestommel  innovation  disruption  disruptiveinnovation 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Future is Learning, But What About Schooling? | Higher Ed Beta @insidehighered
"I am, in short, moving away from my earlier conviction that schooling is learning enacted for public purposes through public institutions, and moving toward a broader vision for learning as a social activity upon which society depends for its future development. I am increasingly aware that the weight of politics and public policy upon the institutions of schooling is making schools less and less likely to be the privileged place where learning occurs in the future.

The future of learning in society is virtually unlimited, at least for the foreseeable future. Learning is the conversion of information into knowledge; information, in the digital age has become a vast sea of ones and zeros; information becomes knowledge by passing through some medium that transforms the ones and zeros into a conceptually organized form.

In the past, we have thought of this transformation as a single authoritative portal, called schooling. The advent of digital culture means that this portal is now one among many possible places, virtual and physical, where information can become knowledge. The type of knowledge and skill required to negotiate this increasingly complex world is completely different from what schools have conventionally done, and schools are institutionally disadvantaged as players in this new world, in large part because of the well-intentioned efforts of school reformers.

While learning has largely escaped the boundaries of institutionalized schooling, educational reformers have for the past thirty years or so deliberately and systematically engaged in public policy choices that make schools less and less capable of responding to the movement of learning into society at large.

Standards and expectations have become more and more literal and highly prescriptive in an age where human beings will be exercising more and more choice over what and how they will learn.

Testing and assessment practices have become more and more conventional and narrow as the range of competencies required to negotiate digital culture has become more complex and highly variegated.

Teacher preparation, hiring, induction, and evaluation practices have become more and more rigid and hierarchical in an age where the teaching function is migrating out into a more individualized and tailored set of learning environments.

We are continuing to invest massively in hard-boundary physical structures in an age where learning is moving into mobile, flexible, and networked relationships. In other words, it would be hard to imagine an institutional structure for learning that is less suited for the future than the heavily institutionalized, hierarchical world that education reformers have constructed."

[via: http://willrichardson.com/post/107596923875/oh-the-irony ]
richardelmore  2015  education  learning  howweteach  unschooling  dechooling  schooliness  edreform  netwrokedlearning  policy  standards  standardization  expectations  evaluation  hierarchy  schooling  decentralization  obsolescence  irrelevance  bureaucracy  knowledge  information  schoolreform  institutions  institutionalization  publicschools  society  scriptedlearning  testing  assessment  hiring  flexibility  mobility  experience  leadership  politics 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Broken Windows, Broken Schools: A Panel Discussion on Education & Justice on Livestream
[So much here.]

"Many times schools are looked at as a solution to an in-equal society. This panel brings together a range of experts on the connections between schools and communities to highlight what policies and practices be undertaken to make both more just. **PANELISTS ** ZAKIYAH ANSARI - Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education R. L'HEUREUX LEWIS-MCCOY - Sociology & Black Studies, City College of New York/City University of New York; IRAAS Adjunct Faculty CARLA SHEDD - Sociology & African-American Studies, Columbia University JOSÉ LUIS VILSON - NYC Public School Teacher and Author"
education  publicschools  policy  2015  inequality  community  privatization  choice  teaching  howweteach  commoncore  schooltoprisonpipleine  zakiyahansari  l'heureuxlewis-mccoy  carlashedd  discipline  pedagogy  race  institutionalracism  bias  class  society  canon  expectations  neworleans  chicago  nyc  advocacy  parenting  children  learning  overseers  justice  socialjustice  doublestandards  edreform  agency  democracy  voice  empowerment  josévilson  nola  charterschools 
february 2015 by robertogreco
As if teachers' jobs aren't hard enough, they're asked to fix poverty, too - YouTube
"Big ideas in public education, such as the Obama administration's Race to the Top and Teach For America, often say teachers could improve inequality. Dana Goldstein, author of The Teacher Wars, sat down with us to explain why this is magical thinking that's been around since the 1800s.

For more on public education reform, Goldstein also contributed a feature to Vox on how Teach For America is starting to seriously reform after 20 years of criticism.

http://www.vox.com/2014/9/5/6079493/teach-for-america-criticism-changing "

[via (embedded here): http://www.vox.com/2014/12/18/7402261/social-security-teachers-pension ]

[See also: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/09/06/345293914/q-a-dana-goldstein-author-the-teacher-wars ]
danagoldstein  teaching  teachers  poverty  edreform  tfa  2014  criticism  inequality  race  rttt  nclb  magicalthinking  teachforamerica 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The Future of Education: Programmed or Programmable
"See I don’t want to overreach here and make an argument that the Web is some sort of technological or ed-tech utopia. Despite all the talk about “leveling the playing field” and disrupting old, powerful institutions, the Web replicates many pre-existing inequalities; it exacerbates others; it creates new ones. I think we have to work much harder to make the Web live up to the rhetoric of freedom and equality. That’s a political effort, not simply a technological one.

Let me repeat that, because it has pretty significant implications for ed-tech, which is so often developed and implemented at the whims of political decisions — decisions made by politicians, administrators, decisions influenced by budgets, vendor pitches, and the latest Thomas Friedman New York Times op-ed. Decisions like ending Pell Grants for prisoners, for example.

To transform education and education technology to make it "future-facing” means we do have to address what exactly we think education should look like now and in the future. Do we want programmed instruction? Do we want teaching machines? Do we want videotaped lectures? Do we want content delivery systems? Or do we want education that is more student-centered, more networked-focused. Are we ready to move beyond “content” and even beyond “competencies”? Can we address the ed-tech practices that look more and more like carceral education — surveillance, predictive policing, control?"

See, these are political questions and they are philosophical questions. I don’t think it’s quite as simple as a choice between programmed instruction or the programmable web. And instead of acting as though ed-tech is free of ideology, we need to recognize that it is very much enmeshed in it.
audreywatters  2014  content  contentdelivery  edtech  technology  future  education  adomainofone'sown  politics  policy  democracy  surveillance  ideology  edreform  bfskinner  inequality  freedom  equality  teachingmachines 
november 2014 by robertogreco
This Is What Happens When You Criticize Teach for America | The Nation
"In the interview, Chovnick referenced the extent to which Teach For America manufactured its public image, explaining, “Instead of engaging in real conversations with critics, and even supporters, about the weaknesses of Teach For America and where it falls short, Teach For America seemed to put a positive spin on everything. During my tenure on staff, we even got a national team, the communications team, whose job it was to get positive press out about Teach For America in our region and to help us quickly and swiftly address any negative stories, press or media.”

An internal media strategy memo, obtained by The Nation, confirms Chovnick’s concerns, detailing TFA’s intricate methodology for combating negative media attention, or what it calls “misinformation.” Given that TFA takes tens of millions of government dollars every year, such strategies are troubling. According to its last three years of available tax filings, Teach For America has spent nearly $3.5 million in advertising and promotion. As the strategy memo indicates, much of this promotion goes toward attacking journalists, including ones previously published in this magazine. The memo details the numerous steps TFA’s communications team took in order to counter Alexandra Hootnick’s recent piece for the The Nation, “Teachers Are Losing Their Jobs, but Teach For America Is Expanding. What’s Wrong With That?”"
teachforamerica  tfa  marketing  2014  via:audreywatters  education  policy  publicity  edreform  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
november 2014 by robertogreco
America’s dangerous education myth: Why it isn’t the best anti-poverty program - Salon.com
"If you’ve followed the education reform debate in this country, the Finland story should be familiar by now. Almost as if engaged in an elaborate troll, Finland has apparently organized its educational system in exactly the opposite way as the reform movement here claims is necessary. The reformers say we need longer school days, but the Finns have short ones. The reformers say we need extensive standardized testing, but the Finns have almost none. The reformers say we need to keep a close leash on teachers, but the Finns give their teachers considerable freedom. Despite all of these pedagogical mistakes, the Finns consistently find themselves at the top of the international education scoreboard.

Normally, the suggested lesson of the Finland story is that the education reformers’ proposals are at minimum unnecessary and perhaps even counterproductive. Whether this lesson actually falls out of the Finland story is the subject of hotly contested arguments that are insufferably boring. However, flying under the radar of these Finland debates is a much less contestable and interesting lesson: Education cannot deliver economic equality.

If ever there was an opportunity to show that education can fix inequality and poverty, Finland is it. The children come into its education system with the lowest poverty rates in the world. In addition to its overall excellence, Finland’s education system is also extremely egalitarian in the way that it instructs its pupils. There are almost no private schools, college is free, and an ethos of total inclusion seems to reign. It is the closest thing to the liberal education utopia as you will probably ever find.

Despite all of this, Finnish economic inequality and poverty is still quite high, at least when you look at the market distribution of income. In 2010, Finland’s market poverty rate (defined as those with incomes below 50 percent of the median income) was 32.2 percent. By comparison, the United States’ market poverty was actually lower at 28.4 percent. When it comes to overall inequality, Finland’s Gini coefficient in 2010 was 0.479. This was only slightly lower than the U.S.’ Gini coefficient, which stood at 0.499.

Education boosters bizarrely think that providing everyone a high-quality education will somehow magically result in them all having good-paying jobs. But, as Finland shows, this turns out not to be true. Apparently, it’s not possible for everyone to simultaneously hold jobs as well-paid upper-class professionals because at least some people have to actually do real work. A modern economy requires a whole army of lesser-skilled jobs that just don’t pay that well and the necessity of those jobs doesn’t go away simply because people are well-educated.

The reason Finland’s ultimate distribution of income is so equal is not because its great education system has made everyone receive high paychecks (an impossible task), but because Finland has put in place distributive policies that make sure its national income is shared broadly. In 2010, Finland’s tax level was 42.5 percent of its GDP, which was nearly double the tax level of the U.S. By strategically spreading that tax money around through a host of cash transfer and benefit programs, Finland’s high market poverty rate of 32.2 percent fell to just 7.3 percent. Its child poverty rate, which Finland focuses extra attention on, fell down to 3.9 percent. Overall economic inequality took a similar dive.

The real lesson that the Finland story teaches us is not the one about pedagogical techniques that draws so much fierce debate. Rather, it’s a lesson about what very successful pedagogy and excellent education can actually do for a society. Good education can make your society well-educated and more productive, but it cannot generate a labor market in which everyone works a high-paying job. It cannot ensure that market income is distributed evenly or adequately. It cannot even come remotely close to doing those things.

The upshot of this lesson is that the fixation on education as a solution to poverty, inequality or any other distributional problem is totally wrongheaded. Good and equitable education is a huge plus for all sorts of things, but it doesn’t create an egalitarian society. Those who say it will – a group that includes reformers and their opponents – have no idea what they are talking about and, through their ignorant distractions, help sow the seeds of never-ending stratification and low-end material insecurity."
2014  education  poverty  policy  us  finland  insecurity  capitalism  society  inequality  edreform 
october 2014 by robertogreco
S’More Inequality
"Cognitive psychology—“the mind’s new science” of the last several decades—has directed both popular and scholarly attention to the cultivation of individual willpower as a tool of personal maximization. The Stanford marshmallow experiment on delayed gratification among preschoolers serves as a widely recognized touchstone for this revivification of interest in the will. But the marshmallow test is more than a handy synecdoche for the cold new logic behind shrinking public services and the burgeoning apparatus of surveillance and accountability. It also shows how the sciences of the soul can be deployed to create the person they purport to describe, by willing political transformation. The individual agent of willpower—“executive function,” in the argot of the cognitive sciences—becomes both the means and the end of school privatization. This body of work offers a way to read savage social inequality and a bifurcated labor market as individual mental functions whose ideal type is corporate decision making; it also aids the transition to corporate control of education itself. Following this trope from the realm of cultural logic to public policy allows us to watch neoliberalism operating simultaneously as ideology and agenda and to recognize the consistent denial of reproductive labor that gives the lie to its pretensions."

[via: https://twitter.com/yayitsrob/status/517691187516280832
https://twitter.com/yayitsrob/status/517691603280879616 ]
executivefunction  via:robinsonmeyer  cognitivescience  psychology  cognitivepsychology  willpower  self-control  marshmallowtest  delayedgratification  control  neoliberalism  bathanymoreton  2014  children  schools  schooling  edreform  policy  education  preschool  privatization  ideology  popscience  capitalism  latecapitalism  labor  behavior 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Gates Money Attempts to Shift the Education Conversation to Successes
In 2011, NBC news anchor Brian Williams stated during an Education Nation broadcast,
Gates Foundation, one of the sponsors of this event, and the largest single funder of education anywhere in the world. It’s their facts that we’re going to be referring to often to help along our conversation.

So money buys you the very facts that guide the public discourse!

It was often repeated and became widely accepted as a result of their campaign that “public education is broken.” This was the narrative that has allowed for wholesale experimentation in the deconstruction of public education. Now, the story is shifting, and the new narrative is “Reform is Working!”

Where do we go for facts? We go to journalists. We go to academics who are doing research. We go to “experts.”

When journalists and academics are challenged about the insidious effect this one-sided funding plays in the public arena, rarely is the problem acknowledged. The most common defense to this practice is “we have not changed what we believe or write because of the funding.” And this may, in large part, be true. But what happens when a whole sector of journalism becomes part of telling whatever story the sponsor wishes told?

And what happens when, out of a thousand articulate and passionate participants in a discussion about education, the fifty who are most closely aligned with the agenda of the Gates and Walton foundations find themselves showered with grant opportunities, enabling them to mount rapid response teams, conduct “research,” pose as unbiased “consumer reports” style reviewers of educational products, issue ratings of schools of education, and so forth."
edreform  journalism  bias  billgates  gatesfoundation  2014  power  influence  policy  corruption  education  funding  schools  via:Taryn 
september 2014 by robertogreco
CURMUDGUCATION: Students Travel in Packs
"We don't talk about this much, but one more problem with the reformster agenda is that it takes each student as an isolated unit, a human being with no context. The picture of "individualized" education often portrayed by folks like Knewton (the mad number crunching scientists at Pearson) is that we feed Pat into the Giant Data Bank and the GDB spits out Chris a student that the magic formulas claim is just like Pat. "Here's how Chris learned this stuff," says the magical computer. "Just teach Pat the same way."

This is an odd approach for many reasons, but one of the oddest reasons is that it assumes that Pat and Chris are discrete isolated student units with no real context or social setting.

In reformsterland, people are disconnected and no relationships exist. Teachers and students interact in a Strictly Business manner-- teachers deliver instruction and students respond to it by becoming capable enough to score well on standardized tests. But at least teachers and students interact in some manner; in reformsterland, students do not interact with other students at all. The relationships they form, the culture that they create in their schools-- none of this actually exists. In reformsterland, students travel in isolated bubbles, unaffected by any of the other bubbles around them.

It's ironic, because in reformsterland every one of those bubbles contains an identical data generation unit (formerly known as human children). One size fits them all, and I suppose it doesn't matter which one of the other bubbles is their "friend" because they're all interchangeable, and relationships don't affect anything anyway.

It's just one more way in which reformsterland does not resemble the real world. Because in the real world, students travel in packs, and the packs are interesting and vibrant and affecting because every person brings something unique to the table. And the possible combinations of all these humans are infinite in number, staggering in complexity, and endless in influence, whether reformsters want to recognize their existence or not."
education  policy  edreform  onesixefitsall  standardization  school  instruction  standards  individualization  relationships  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  teaching  business  standardizedtests  data  petergreene  2014 
september 2014 by robertogreco
This Teen Wants to Abolish School as We Know It | VICE United States
"Q: You seem to be going in a more radical direction. I take it you’re not going to quote [New York Times columnist] Tom Friedman in the second book then?
A: That’s definitely not going to happen. I didn’t read much about capitalism or neoliberalism. I didn’t know as much back then. That’s something I find particularly interesting because I see that many young politically minded people who support the Democratic Party gain their knowledge on issues by reading the opinion pages of the New York Times and Washington Post, which espouse militaristic, neoliberal nonsense. And that's what I did for some time. So I didn’t understand the structural, institutional problems as I do now.

Q: How does having a more holistic view of how schools fit in the institution of capitalism informed your critique of schools? I mean, it seems to be why there’s such a focus on math and science test scores and keeping up with India and China.
A: Even back then, I was very much skeptical of these international comparisons, but I hadn’t understood how it fit into a larger framework and narrative. Now I see that, for example, what’s happening in Chicago and Philadelphia and other cities, there's a neoliberal assault on public education. And I connected the fact that the tenets of capitalism were seeping into the sphere of education. That’s given me a lot more insight into why these so-called “reformers” are making these suggestions.

Q: And actually making things worse, in your view.
A: Much, much worse.

Q: You’re not a reformer. In fact, you say you’re a revolutionary. So let’s say I name you superintendent-for-life. What are the major, structural things you would address right away?
A: A lot of my research and reporting over the last two, three years has looked at many unconventional, alternative schools. In the early 1900s, in Spain, there were a lot of schools known as “Anarchist Free Schools.” Many of them later sprung up in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States. These types of schools basically shun every principle of traditional education. They believe that children are natural learners. They believe that children should be trusted and have a voice. There should be democratic processes within the school itself. There shouldn't be any of these arbitrary features such as grades and tests; that children should just have freedom.

I’ve visited a number of these schools that are outside the framework of traditional education. The problem is that the ones we have today are mainly private schools. They’re not as accessible to low-income kids. But there are a couple of them that are not as radical but are publicly funded. The results have been extraordinary. One of them is a school in Philadelphia called “The Workshop School.” This is a project-based learning school particularly for low-income, minority children."



"Q: Kids who are caught up in this public school system that is stifling their creativity—what advice do you have for them? How do you get through the system without being crushed by it?
A: It’s a question I get a lot from young people. It’s very difficult because, by law, if you’re a certain age you’re forced to attend school. You have no other choice. But the system, as oppressive as it is, there are some loopholes. If your family is affluent enough, you can go to one of these really great free, democratic schools that I mentioned. And there are some school districts, not as many today as there were in the 1970s, which have programs for kids who are failing or who have behavioral issues—it’s funny because these programs are actually so much better than what the other kids have to go through. You could try to graduate early. There’s homeschooling. But it’s very difficult to pursue alternatives within the current confines of the system.

Q: A lot of people say charter schools are an alternative.
A: I don’t support the privatization of education. There are some good charter schools out there, but I’m very wary of them. They often leave out kids with learning disabilities. They expel kids at very high rates. They send out kids who don’t test well. So there’s a lot of discriminatory and just really awful practices that they partake in to maintain a really homogenous population of students who just test well. I live in Woodbury, New York. You’ll never find a charter school trying to make its way into this privileged community. You really only find them in poor black and brown communities.

Q: And you’re suggesting they siphon off the best students and artificially inflate their test scores, because they’re for-profit institutions and that’s the best way to secure more contracts.
A: It’s strings attached, in terms of their funding, for a lot of them. They have to meet certain test scores; it just turns into this ruthless test-preparation factory."
nikhilgoyal  charlesdavis  2014  unschooling  deschooling  education  edreform  reform  schools  policy  compulsory  privatization  democraticschools  freeschools  charterschools 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The Charter School Profiteers | Jacobin
[part one here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/07/no-excuses-in-new-orleans/ ]

"My interactions with this “ordinary hero” were limited. The most memorable instance occurred during a school staff meeting last May.

Kilgore had been gone from the school for a year and a half, but his influence was still pronounced. When he left for Skillman, the board never appointed a new superintendent, instead promoting the chief academic officer to interim superintendent. This move left the school’s leadership in limbo and meant many on staff continued to view Kilgore as an authority. Nobody batted an eyelash when he occasionally called staff meetings, like this one in May.

Adding to the confusion of Kilgore’s consistent behind-the-scene machinations were rumors that he was still being paid by the school. And so at the meeting, feeling frustrated by all I was witnessing, I decided to ask. We locked eyes, more or less, and without a moment’s pause Kilgore flatly denied being on payroll during his leave of absence. “No, I’m not,” he said matter-of-factly before flashing the room his electric smile. He continued with the next line on the agenda.

Needing to return to my classroom for a meeting with a parent, I got up a few minutes later. As I made my way towards the back of the gym, Kilgore stopped me. “Lady in red!” he called out. I had been on staff for three years, and he did not know my name.

“For transparency,” he began, stressing the second word. “I just want to say I am not on payroll, but my consulting company is.”

The words “consulting company” hung in the air, but no further explanation was given. What the company did, or even what it was called, remained a mystery. That August I sent in a Freedom of Information Act to the school’s board and lawyer."



"In 2007, while he was running PEC, Kilgore founded Transitions Consultants, LLC (and its counterpart, Transitions Employment Services, LLC) with fraternity brother Jegede Idowu and businessman Kareim Cade. At the time Kilgore was PEC’s superintendent, Idowu was PEC’s chief financial officer, and Cade worked for Colonial Life, a supplemental insurance provider used by PEC.

With the founding of Transitions, Kilgore extended and broadened his entrepreneurial reach in the booming charter sector. From school leader to consultant, Kilgore positioned himself as the head of a for-profit EMO providing services to competing schools.

Peddling a five-phase plan that decreased in price as schools transitioned to self-management, Transitions landed contracts for the 2008-9 school year with George Washington Carver Academy (GWCA) and its neighborhood competitor, Northpointe Academy. Both schools had track records of low academic performance, and GWCA had recently been dropped by its authorizer, Central Michigan University. When Transitions came along, both schools were chartered by the bankrupt and swamped Highland Park School District — which was most likely attracted to the 3 percent per-pupil fee it was entitled to as authorizer. Desperate for transformation, the GWCA was drawn to Transitions’ seemingly attractive business model and ostensibly successful founders. It seemed too good to be true.

And it was. By the end of year one, the academy was still in terrible academic shape. As the management company prepared for its second year with the school, rumors circulated about financial challenges and an inability to pay teachers in a timely fashion.

After a disappointing meeting in August 2009 where Kilgore announced pay would be late by two weeks, the frustrated teachers attempted to form a union. Threatened or simply unwilling to countenance opposition, Transitions Consultants, LLC gave their sixty-day notice of contract termination that September. In board meeting minutes from that month they cite “teacher tension” as one of the reasons. The school year had just begun.

What should have been a clean break was anything but. In November, Transitions sued GWCA for over $230,000 in unpaid invoices. The for-profit EMO felt entitled to the monies not because of a contractual obligation, but because the school had not objected to the invoices in a reasonable amount of time.

Reviewing board meeting minutes from that time period, questions about unnecessary, exorbitant, and disorganized billing arise time and again.

For example, in August, a Transitions employee, Carlos Johnson, (who has also been contracted by PEC over the years) ran a marketing campaign for the school by handing out postcards and t-shirts at a booth in downtown Detroit. Transitions invoiced GWCA $30,000 for the weekend marketing stint. When asked about remaining funds at an October 12 board meeting, Johnson said he would get back to the school. There is no documentation of him following up.

At a budget meeting on October 20, it is revealed that GPS Educational Services (a company Transitions contracted for special education services that has also been contracted by PEC) invoiced the school for $200,000, even though the school budget allocated only $111,000 for their services.

At the same meeting, Carmella Hardin, an independent accountant who GWCA hired after Transitions gave notice, recommends the discontinuation of the electronic signature feature because while reviewing the books she noticed, “Checks were being cut without approval and duplicate invoices were being entered and paid.”

With GWCA and Transitions battling over money, the school’s day-to-day responsibilities of educating kids took a backseat. Board meeting minutes from the time period show a slew of angry parents, guardians, and educators vocalizing concern."
education  corruption  forprofit  detroit  oney  privatization  edreform  consultants  graft  2014  alliegross  tfa  neoliberalism  teachforamerica  charterschools 
july 2014 by robertogreco
“No Excuses” in New Orleans | Jacobin
[via: http://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-70]

[part 2 here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/07/the-charter-school-profiteers/ ]

"Extensive observational research one of us conducted (Sondel) in two of these “No Excuses” schools (an elementary KIPP school and a locally based middle school modeled after KIPP) provides evidence that assessment data is no longer the proxy for educational quality but has in fact become the purpose of schooling itself.

At both schools, as is the case in many “No Excuses” charters in New Orleans, the principals were white males, under the age of thirty, and TFA alumni. TFA corps members and alumni also constituted five of the six collective administrators and over 60 percent of the instructional staff.

With few exceptions, the curriculum was characterized by a narrow interpretation of state standards at the expense of all other material. Students rarely learned local history or current events. Instead, science and social studies were relegated to ancillary classes in the elementary school and reduced to the accumulation of vocabulary and lists of facts at the middle school. Teachers stopped introducing new material a month prior to state assessments in order to begin review.

This curriculum was delivered almost exclusively through direct instruction — what TFA corps members refer to as the “five step lesson plan,” and educator and philosopher Paulo Freire calls “banking education,” wherein students are treated as passive and empty receptacles into which information can be deposited. In nearly every lesson Sondel observed, teachers stood in front of students to introduce new content or an isolated skill, after which students were asked to parrot, practice, and then perform their newly acquired knowledge on worksheets and multiple-choice assessments. There were no student debates, projects, or science experiments.

In a literacy lesson, for example, a teacher started by reviewing the definitions of figurative language. The teacher then projected on the Smartboard sentence after sentence, poem after poem, and, finally, a short story while students raised their hands and waited to be called on to identify idioms, similes, and personification.

After this series of questions and answers, the students sat silently at their desks, read four short passages, and identified figurative language on multiple-choice questions. The students were not asked to read the poem, analyze the story, or discuss the purpose of metaphors. After the lesson, upon being asked if students practice this skill in their independent reading or writing activities, the teacher responded, “You know the problem with that is then they have a difficult time identifying metaphors on the test.”

Perhaps because there was little inherently interesting or relevant to students about the curriculum or the classroom activities, teachers often attempted to control rather than engage students in lessons.

There were, for example, specific expectations about where students should put their hands, which direction they should turn their heads, how they should stand, and how they should sit — practices referred to at one school as SLANT (Sit up, Listen, Ask and Answer Questions, Nod, and Track the Speaker) and at the other as SPARK (Sit up straight, Pay attention, Ask and answer questions, React to show I’m following along, Keep tracking the speaker). Students were kept silent, or what teachers called “level zero,” through most of the day.

Silence seemed to be especially important in the hallways. At the sound of each bell at the middle school, students were expected to line up at “level zero” with their faces forward and hands behind their backs and, when given permission, step into the hallway and onto strips of black duct tape. There they waited for the command of an administrator: “Duke, you can move to your next class! Tulane, you can walk when you show me that you are ready!”

Students then marched until they reached the STOP sign on the floor, where their teacher checked them for hallway position before giving them permission to continue around the corner. Throughout this process, students moved counter-clockwise around the perimeter of the hallway (even if they were going to a classroom one door to the left).

This system of control was administered through intricate systems of reward and punishment. Elementary students received and lost stars for each “behavioral infraction.” In one classroom, a teacher circulated the room with a timer in her hand while students read silently. Every three minutes, after the buzzer, she put a single goldfish on the desk of each student who had remained silent. In another classroom, a teacher silently glared at a student and then typed into his iPhone, which was connected through Class Dojo — an online behavior management system — to his Smartboard. Numbers would increase and decrease on little avatars representing each student.

At the middle school, stars matured into fake money that students could use to buy access to brass band and spoken word performances. When they were not compliant, or did not have enough money to attend the weekly celebration, they were sent to the “behavior intervention room,” where they were expected to copy a piece of text word for word on lined paper. One particular afternoon, the text in question was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Despite the reputation that people join TFA to pad their resumes, many get involved in an attempt to contribute to society. Some are even convinced they are a part of the Civil Rights Movement of their generation. Implementing the “No Excuses” approach is equated with social justice, under the assumption that it is the most effective way to improve students’ test scores — which will get them into college and out of poverty. One teacher explains: “Because these days with the economy the way it is, you need a college degree. So this is a movement of social justice and giving everyone that wants an opportunity access to education.”

Teachers unconvinced by this ideology tend to acquiesce to the “No Excuses” approach for fear of losing their jobs or negatively influencing their students’ futures. One social studies teacher who wishes he could develop his students into historically curious, community-oriented citizens told Sondel why he focuses on teaching standards and test prep instead of current events: “I would be afraid of seeing a whole lot of sixth graders end up back in sixth grade and I would, frankly, be equally afraid that I wouldn’t be the one teaching them next year.”

Yet this pedagogy is far from justice-based or reflective of the radical ambitions of the Civil Rights Movement. Instead, this type of schooling extinguishes young people’s passion for learning and potentially pushes out those who fail to or are unwilling to comply. At best, the “No Excuses” approach attempts to develop within students the compliant dispositions necessary to accept and work within the status quo."
neworleans  education  kipp  schools  2014  policy  edreform  control  socialjustice  democracy  politics  tfa  civilrights  economics  forprofit  via:audreywatters  commoncore  standards  measurement  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  detroit  publicschool  crisis  exploitation  bethsondel  josephboselovic  teachforamerica  nola  charterschools 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Why Do Americans Stink at Math? - NYTimes.com
[via: http://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-70 ]

"Takahashi was especially enthralled with an American group called the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, or N.C.T.M., which published manifestoes throughout the 1980s, prescribing radical changes in the teaching of math. Spending late nights at school, Takahashi read every one. Like many professionals in Japan, teachers often said they did their work in the name of their mentor. It was as if Takahashi bore two influences: Matsuyama and the American reformers.

Takahashi, who is 58, became one of his country’s leading math teachers, once attracting 1,000 observers to a public lesson. He participated in a classroom equivalent of “Iron Chef,” the popular Japanese television show. But in 1991, when he got the opportunity to take a new job in America, teaching at a school run by the Japanese Education Ministry for expats in Chicago, he did not hesitate. With his wife, a graphic designer, he left his friends, family, colleagues — everything he knew — and moved to the United States, eager to be at the center of the new math.

As soon as he arrived, he started spending his days off visiting American schools. One of the first math classes he observed gave him such a jolt that he assumed there must have been some kind of mistake. The class looked exactly like his own memories of school. “I thought, Well, that’s only this class,” Takahashi said. But the next class looked like the first, and so did the next and the one after that. The Americans might have invented the world’s best methods for teaching math to children, but it was difficult to find anyone actually using them.

It wasn’t the first time that Americans had dreamed up a better way to teach math and then failed to implement it. The same pattern played out in the 1960s, when schools gripped by a post-Sputnik inferiority complex unveiled an ambitious “new math,” only to find, a few years later, that nothing actually changed. In fact, efforts to introduce a better way of teaching math stretch back to the 1800s. The story is the same every time: a big, excited push, followed by mass confusion and then a return to conventional practices.

The trouble always starts when teachers are told to put innovative ideas into practice without much guidance on how to do it. In the hands of unprepared teachers, the reforms turn to nonsense, perplexing students more than helping them. One 1965 Peanuts cartoon depicts the young blond-haired Sally struggling to understand her new-math assignment: “Sets . . . one to one matching . . . equivalent sets . . . sets of one . . . sets of two . . . renaming two. . . .” After persisting for three valiant frames, she throws back her head and bursts into tears: “All I want to know is, how much is two and two?”

Today the frustrating descent from good intentions to tears is playing out once again, as states across the country carry out the latest wave of math reforms: the Common Core. A new set of academic standards developed to replace states’ individually designed learning goals, the Common Core math standards are like earlier math reforms, only further refined and more ambitious. Whereas previous movements found teachers haphazardly, through organizations like Takahashi’s beloved N.C.T.M. math-teacher group, the Common Core has a broader reach. A group of governors and education chiefs from 48 states initiated the writing of the standards, for both math and language arts, in 2009. The same year, the Obama administration encouraged the idea, making the adoption of rigorous “common standards” a criterion for receiving a portion of the more than $4 billion in Race to the Top grants. Forty-three states have adopted the standards.

The opportunity to change the way math is taught, as N.C.T.M. declared in its endorsement of the Common Core standards, is “unprecedented.” And yet, once again, the reforms have arrived without any good system for helping teachers learn to teach them. Responding to a recent survey by Education Week, teachers said they had typically spent fewer than four days in Common Core training, and that included training for the language-arts standards as well as the math.

Carefully taught, the assignments can help make math more concrete. Students don’t just memorize their times tables and addition facts but also understand how arithmetic works and how to apply it to real-life situations. But in practice, most teachers are unprepared and children are baffled, leaving parents furious. The comedian Louis C.K. parodied his daughters’ homework in an appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman”: “It’s like, Bill has three goldfish. He buys two more. How many dogs live in London?”

The inadequate implementation can make math reforms seem like the most absurd form of policy change — one that creates a whole new problem to solve. Why try something we’ve failed at a half-dozen times before, only to watch it backfire? Just four years after the standards were first released, this argument has gained traction on both sides of the aisle. Since March, four Republican governors have opposed the standards. In New York, a Republican candidate is trying to establish another ballot line, called Stop Common Core, for the November gubernatorial election. On the left, meanwhile, teachers’ unions in Chicago and New York have opposed the reforms.

The fact that countries like Japan have implemented a similar approach with great success offers little consolation when the results here seem so dreadful. Americans might have written the new math, but maybe we simply aren’t suited to it. “By God,” wrote Erick Erickson, editor of the website RedState, in an anti-Common Core attack, is it such “a horrific idea that we might teach math the way math has always been taught.”"



"Most policies aimed at improving teaching conceive of the job not as a craft that needs to be taught but as a natural-born talent that teachers either decide to muster or don’t possess. Instead of acknowledging that changes like the new math are something teachers must learn over time, we mandate them as “standards” that teachers are expected to simply “adopt.” We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that their students don’t improve.

Here, too, the Japanese experience is telling. The teachers I met in Tokyo had changed not just their ideas about math; they also changed their whole conception of what it means to be a teacher. “The term ‘teaching’ came to mean something totally different to me,” a teacher named Hideto Hirayama told me through a translator. It was more sophisticated, more challenging — and more rewarding. “The moment that a child changes, the moment that he understands something, is amazing, and this transition happens right before your eyes,” he said. “It seems like my heart stops every day.”"
math  mathematics  2014  nctm  education  history  curriculum  howweteach  edreform  akihikotakahashi  pedagogy  japan  us  mindchanging  teaching  howwelearn  understanding  mindchanges 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The Common Core Commotion
"We can assume that if Goals 2000 or NCLB or any of the other reform programs had been effective, the reformers could congratulate themselves for a job well done and go off to find another line of work. They haven’t, which brings us to the third reason that educational reform is an enterprise without end. 

It has to do with the old rule that supply creates its own demand. Over the last two generations, as the problem became unignorable and as vast freshets of money poured from governments and nonprofit foundations, an army of experts emerged to fix America’s schools. From trade unions and think tanks they came, from graduate schools of education and nonprofit foundations, from state education departments and for-profit corporations, from legislative offices and university psych labs and model schools and experimental classrooms, trailing spreadsheets and PowerPoints and grant proposals; they found work as lobbyists, statisticians, developmental psychologists, neurological researchers, education theorists, entrepreneurs, administrators, marketers, think tank fellows, textbook writers—even teachers! So great a mass of specialists cannot be kept idle. If they find themselves with nothing to do, they will find something to do. 

And so, after 40 years of signal failure, the educationists have brought us the Common Core State Standards. It is a totemic example of policy-making in the age of the well-funded expert."



"The foundation’s generosity seems indiscriminate, reflecting the milky centrism of its founder. Evidently Bill Gates doesn’t have a political bone in his body. His intellectual loyalty lies instead with the ideology of expertise. His faith is technocratic and materialist: In the end he believes the ability of highly credentialed observers to identify and solve problems through the social sciences is theoretically limitless. “Studies” and “research” unlock the human secret. This is the animating faith of most educationists, too. All human interactions can be dispassionately observed and their separate parts identified, isolated, analyzed, and quantified according to some version of the scientific method. The resulting data will yield reliable information about how and why we behave as we do, and from this process can be derived formulas that will be universally applicable and repeatable.

“One size fits all” may be a term of mockery used by people who disdain the top-down solutions of centralized power; in the technocratic vision, “one size fits all” describes the ideal.

A good illustration of the Gates technocratic approach to education reform is an initiative called “Measures of Effective Teaching” or MET. (DUH.) The effectiveness of a truly gifted teacher was once considered mysterious or ineffable, a personal transaction rooted in intuition, concern, intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, and professional ardor, combined in a way that defies precise description or replication. Such an old-fashioned notion is an affront to the technocratic mind, which assumes no human phenomenon can be, at bottom, mysterious; nothing is resistant to reduction and measurement. “Eff the Ineffable” is the technocrat’s motto."



"Exciting as it undoubtedly is for the educationist, MET research tells us nothing about how to improve the world that students and teachers inhabit. It is an exercise by educationists for educationists to ponder and argue over. Three hundred and thirty five million dollars can keep a lot of them busy."



"In the confusion between content and learning, the Standards often show the telltale verbal inflation that educationists use to make a simple idea complicated. The Standards for Reading offer a typical example. They come in groups of three—making a wonderful, if suspicious, symmetry. Unfortunately, many of the triplets are essentially identical. According to the rubric Key Ideas and Details, a student should “read closely to determine what the text says explicitly.” Where one standard says the student must be able to “analyze the development of central ideas,” the next standard says the student should be able to “analyze” “how ideas develop.” One “key detail” is to “learn details.” Under Craft and Structure, the student should be able to “analyze” how “portions of text” “relate to each other or the whole.” Another says he “should cite specific textual evidence” and still another that he should “summarize the key supporting details.” All of this collapses into a single unwritten standard: “Learn to read with care and to explain what you’ve read.” But no educationist would be so simple-minded.

There are standards only an educationist could love, or understand. It took me a while to realize that “scaffolding” is an ed-school term for “help.” Associate is another recurring term of art with a flexible meaning, from spell to match, as when third graders are expected to “associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.” This seems like students are being asked to spell vowels, but that can’t be right, can it? And when state and local teachers have to embody such confusing standards in classroom exercises, you’re likely to wind up with more confusion."



"THE RISE OF THE RIGHT

Most of the criticism of the Standards has come from the populist right, and the revolt of conservative parents against the pet project of a national educationist elite is genuine, spontaneous, and probably inevitable. But if you move beyond the clouds of jargon, and the compulsory gestures toward “critical thinking” and “metacognitive skills,” you will begin to spy something more interesting. There’s much in the Standards to reassure an educational traditionalist—a vein of subversion. At several points, Common Core is clearly intended as a stay against the runaway enthusiasms of educationist dogma.

The Standards insist schools’ (unspecified) curriculums be “content-rich”—meaning that they should teach something rather than nothing. They even go so far as to require students to read Shakespeare, the Preamble and First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and works of Greek mythology. Phonics is the chief means of teaching reading in Common Core, rejecting the notorious “whole language” method first taken up in the 1970s and—research shows!—a likely culprit in the decline in reading scores. The Standards discourage the use of calculators, particularly in early grades where it has become a popular substitute for acquiring basic math. The Standards require memorization of multiplication tables as an important step in learning arithmetic, striking a blow against “fuzzy math.” Faddish notions like “visual literacy” are nowhere to be found.

Perhaps most impressively, at least in language arts, the Standards require students to read and write ever larger amounts of nonfiction as they move toward their high school diploma. Anyone familiar with the soupy “young adult” novels fed to middle- and high-school students should be delighted. Writing assignments, in tandem with more rigorous reading, move away from mere self-expression—commonly the focus of writing all the way through high school—to the accumulation of evidence and detail in the service of arguments. The architect of the Language Arts Standards, an educationist called David Coleman, explained this shift in a speech in 2011. He lamented that the most common form of writing in high school these days is “personal writing.”

It is either the exposition of a personal opinion or it is the presentation of a personal matter. The only problem, forgive me for saying this so bluntly, the only problem with those two forms of writing is as you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.

Now, it is hard to imagine a more traditionalist sentiment than that. Yet conservative Common Core activists single out Coleman as a particularly sinister adversary, perhaps for his potty mouth. The populist campaign against the Standards has been scattershot: Sometimes they are criticized for being unrealistically demanding, at other times for being too soft. Even Common Core’s insistence on making the Constitution part of any sound curriculum has been attacked as insidious. Recall that students will be required to read only the Preamble and the First Amendment. That is, they will stop reading before they reach the Second Amendment and the guarantee of gun rights.

Coincidence? Many activists think not. "



"Conservative hostility to the Common Core is also entangled with hostility to President Obama and his administration. Joy Pullman, an editor and writer who is perhaps the most eloquent and responsible public critic of Common Core, wrote recently in thefederalist.com: “I wager that 90 percent of the debate over Common Core would instantly dissipate if states adopted the top-rated standards from, say, Massachusetts or Indiana and dropped the Obama administration tests.”

While the personal hostility to Obama might be overwrought, the administration’s campaign on behalf of the Standards has borne all the marks of the president’s other efforts at national persuasion."



"THUNDER ON THE LEFT

The administration’s bullying and dishonesty might be reason enough to reject the Standards. The campaign has even begun to worry its natural allies, who are losing trust in assurances that the Common Core is an advance for progressive education. Educationists on the leftward edge point to its insistence that teachers be judged on how much their students learn. This bears an unappealing resemblance to NCLB requirements, and they worry it will inject high-pressure competition into the collegial environment that most educationists prefer. Worse, it could be a Trojan horse for a reactionary agenda, a return to the long-ago era when students really had to, you know, learn stuff.

“The purpose of education,” says … [more]
education  reform  edreform  anationatrisk  nclb  georgewbush  georgehwbush  ronaldreagan  barackobama  jimmycarter  money  policy  experts  commoncore  curriclum  2014  andrewferguson  via:ayjay  1990  2000  1979  departmentofeducation  edwardkennedy  tedkennedy  goals2000  1983  gatesfoundation  billgates  arneduncan  bureaucracy  markets  aft  nonprofits  centralization  standards  schools  publicschools  us  ideology  politics  technocracy  credentialism  teaching  howweteach  measurement  rankings  testing  standardizedtesting  abstraction  nonprofit 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Teacher Tom: Equality Vs. Cruelty
"Yesterday, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced a "major shift" in how the federal government evaluates the effectiveness of special education programs. And by that he means, subjecting special needs students to the same sort of high stakes "tough love" rigor that is already reducing young children across the country to tears and causing them to hate school. He said, "We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to robust curriculum, they excel." He is not just wrong, he is lying. He does not know this. No one knows this. There is no data, research, or other reliable evidence to back him up. As with the rest of the corporate education "reform" agenda, this assertion is pure guesswork based upon an ideology that asserts that unleashing "powerful market forces" of competition, standardization, and punishment and reward, will magically make everything better.

Duncan is using the logic of the spanker: If I hit the kid hard enough and often enough, he'll come to see the light. Never mind that there is no science behind this "logic," indeed, most researchers point to significant negative consequences from spanking, just as they point to significant negative consequences from the drill-and-kill of high stakes testing, rote learning, teachers separated from unemployment by one bad batch of blueberries, and schools closing, only to be replaced by unproven, often shoddy, corporate charter schools that have no problem toeing the line Duncan, Bill Gates and the rest of these bullies have drawn in the sand.

The sick part is that the guys behind this purport to be all about data. They are forever throwing out assertions that start, like Duncan's did, with the words "We know . . . ," but they simply do not know. They conflate knowing with believing. As a teacher, as a person who wants what's best for young children, I want to really know. I have my beliefs and ideas and ideologies like everyone else, but when it comes right down to it, what I do in the classroom is ultimately based upon what science tells us is best for children intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically. Yet here are these guys with deep pockets and positions of great power who are worshipers at the alter of "free markets" (as if free markets have ever existed) hell bent on subjecting our children to the cruelty of competition, standardization, and punishment and reward, you know, for their own good, even if it robs them of their childhood and kills their joy of learning.

I've been struggling with this for some time. How can we get through to these guys? I started with the hope that they would respond to reason.

For instance, much of the rationale for this corporate "reform" push comes from the US's middling scores on the international PISA tests and the resulting fear that "the Chinese are beating us." Of course, Finland is beating us too, regularly joining the Chinese at the top of the charts. So why is it that these guys are seeking to emulate the Chinese model of romanticized suffering instead of the much more humane and effective methods of the Finns? They do this even as the communist dictatorship of China is backing away from its drill-and-kill methods in favor of "schools that follow sound education principles" and that "respect . . . students' physical and psychological development." Why are they ignoring the lessons of the democratic nation of Finland, a nation with a civic culture much more similar to the US, in favor of the admittedly failed methods of the dictatorial Chinese?

But reason is ineffective when it comes to ideologues.

This has been a frustrating thing for me these past several years as I've become increasingly involved in the pushback against those who would turn our schools into institutions of vocational training at the expense of everything else. The primary focus of the Finn's educational system is on equality, community, and citizenship, and that, after all, is the primary function of education in a democracy. The rest of their education success comes from that. And that is the sort of schools for which I am fighting.

Let corporations train their own damn workers. Our schools have more important work to do. And that, at bottom, is why I think these corporate "reformers" are so focused on creating Dickensian schools: they hope it results in the sorts of workers they are seeking to fill their cubicles. Fine. I'm an adult. I can chose to not take part, but forcing it on our children, even our children with special needs, that's pure cruelty, which sadly, seems to be the new American way.

I will be on the doorstep of the Gates Foundation this evening fighting for a different America, one based upon the democratic ideals of equality rather than the corporate ideology of cruelty."
tomhobson  gatesfoundation  arneduncan  rttt  education  edreform  schools  corporatism  billgates  pisa  us  policy  politics  training  democracy  criticalthinking  equality  community  civics  2014 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Education Reform: A National Delusion | Steve Nelson
"As I watch the education "debate" in America I wonder if we have simply lost our minds. In the cacophony of reform chatter -- online programs, charter schools, vouchers, testing, more testing, accountability, Common Core, value-added assessments, blaming teachers, blaming tenure, blaming unions, blaming parents -- one can barely hear the children crying out: "Pay attention to us!"

None of the things on the partial list above will have the slightest effect on the so-called achievement gap or the supposed decline in America's international education rankings. Every bit of education reform -- every think tank remedy proposed by wet-behind-the-ears MBAs, every piece of legislation, every one of these things -- is an excuse to continue the unconscionable neglect of our children.

As Pogo wisely noted, "We have met the enemy and he is us." We did this to our children and our schools.

We did this by choosing to see schools as instructional factories, beginning in the early 20th century.

We did this by swallowing the obscene notion that schools and colleges are businesses and children are consumers.

We did this by believing in the infallibility of free enterprise, by pretending America is a meritocracy, and by ignoring the pernicious effects of unrelenting racism.

We did this by believing that children are widgets and economy of scale is both possible and desirable.

We did this by acting as though reality and the digital representation of reality are the same thing.

We did this by demeaning the teaching profession.

We did this by allowing poverty and despair to shatter families.

We did this by blaming these families for the poverty and despair we inflicted on them.

We did this by allowing school buildings to deteriorate, by removing the most enlivening parts of the school day, by feeding our children junk food.

We did this by failing to properly fund schools, making them dependent on shrinking property taxes and by shifting the costs of federal mandates to resource-strapped states and local communities.

We did this by handcuffing teachers with idiotic policies, constant test preparation and professional insecurity.

America's children need our attention, not Pearson's lousy tests or charter schools' colorful banners and cute little uniforms that make kids look like management trainees.

America's teachers need our support, our admiration, and the freedom to teach and love children.

The truth is that our children need our attention, not political platitudes and more TED talks.

The deterioration began in earnest with the dangerously affable Ronald Reagan, whose "aw shucks" dismantling of the social contract has triggered 30 years of social decline, except for the most privileged among us. The verdict is in. The consequence of trickle down economics has been tens of millions of American families having some pretty nasty stuff dripping on them.

Education was already in trouble and then, beginning in 2001 with the ironically named No Child Left Behind Act (which has left almost all children behind), the decline accelerated. When a bad policy fails, just rename it. In a nation where "branding" reigns supreme, you get Race to the Top. It's changing the paint color on a Yugo and expecting it to drive like a Lamborghini.

In the 13 years since NCLB there has been no -- zero, nada -- progress in education. Most claims of improvement can be attributed to changing the standards or shifting kids from one place to another -- educational gerrymandering. We've reduced education to dull test-prep and we can't even get improved results on the tests we prep for! That is a remarkable failure.

Doing meaningful education with the most advantaged kids and ample resources is challenging enough with classes of 20. Doing meaningful work with children in communities we have decimated through greed and neglect might require classes of 10 or fewer. When will Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton Family, Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan and other education reformers recommend that?

No, that's not forthcoming. Their solution is more iPads and trying to fatten up little Hansel and Gretel by weighing them more often. Pearson will make the scales.

Only in contemporary America can a humanitarian crisis be just another way to make a buck."
2014  stevenelson  education  publicschools  nclb  rttt  arneduncan  edreform  gatesfoundation  broadfoundation  elibroad  commoncore  poverty  billgates  michellerhee  attention  parenting  teaching  learning  politics  policy  pearson  classsize  charterschools 
june 2014 by robertogreco
School’s Out Forever – The New Inquiry
"Education has become the way to talk about class and labor in an American political system that is profoundly uncomfortable with both. In the hands of reformist technocrats, inequality is a matter of nuanced social engineering rather than a conflict between two unequal and opposed sides – those who profit and those who only work. If society wanted to reduce the growing discrepancy between rich and poor, we would worry less about tweaking the educational system and simply pay or give the poor more money. Marsh writes, “Given the political will, whether through redistributive tax rates, massive public works projects, a living wage law, or a renaissance of labor unions, we could decrease poverty and inequality tomorrow regardless of the market or the number of educated and uneducated workers.”

Although Marsh takes the reader back to historical junctions when choosing such paths toward a more equal country seemed possible — like President Johnson’s war on poverty or President Nixon’s proposal for a national income — those days are long gone. As Governor Walker’s successful move against public unions in Wisconsin shows, organized labor’s fight for survival isn’t conducive to winning higher wages. Marsh is not optimistic about the likelihood of an American labor renaissance; the best outcome he can imagine is that we might hold the debate about class and wealth distribution in undisguised terms. “We ought to acknowledge the limited but nevertheless real role education plays in providing individual economic opportunity and may play in generating national economic growth,” he writes, “At the same time, we should seek to make education more of an end it itself and less of a means toward some other end.”

While Marsh uses all his considerable analytical prowess to dispel the myth of class mobility through education, he accepts the conventional wisdom about the “true” purposes of education without a second look. If schools can’t solve society’s economic problems, he suggests, then they should focus on what they can do. Citing Thomas Jefferson through Christopher Lasch, Marsh offers only these two possibilities: “To give everybody the intellectual resources — particularly the command of the language — needed to distinguish truth from public lies” and “to train scholars, intellectuals, and members of learned professions.”

A school system devoted to those two goals wouldn’t make the country more equal, but it might restore English professors like Marsh to their former glory. He writes, “The liberal arts might regain the stature their inevitably central locations on campus indicate they once had. How much better for students’ souls — for their future happiness — to have studied the humanities or some branch of the liberal arts?” Putting aside the supposed strength of the correlation between majoring in literature and happiness, the answer to “How much better for their souls?” isn’t graphable. But being an English professor means never questioning the transcendent impact of your own thought on others."



"Just like the aberrational student elevated out of poverty through education, the exceptional teacher who can impact a student’s soul provides a flawed justification for a system which fails to provide anything of the sort on a larger scale. The hope is that every student has a teacher or two over a decade and a half that really makes them question and think, but either way, we silently acknowledge that they’ll spend the majority of their young vigor-filled lives quivering at the arbitrary mercy of petty kooks and jowly tyrants. Schools train students in what business professor Stefano Harney says every diploma really proves: “that the student can follow arbitrary authority, endure boredom, and compete against others.” Classrooms, tellingly, are usually depicted in popular culture as excruciatingly boring. Teachers post Calvin and Hobbes cartoons about the soul-crushing banality of compulsory attendance on the classroom walls. In TV shows and movies about young people, class time is depicted only so that it can be interrupted by something more important — whether it’s whispered gossip, singing montages, or vampire slaying. Or, à la Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, class is so awful as to be a self-explanatory joke.

With the economic logic ripped apart, the only reasoning Marsh presents for keeping students in the prison/school for 12 to 16 years is that their souls might benefit from compulsory membership in a gerontocratic book club, even if we have to put a sizable proportion of them on amphetamines for it to work. This isn’t coincidental, it’s prefigurative, a determining sneak-peek at the adults they’ll become. High schools and colleges knowingly teach and enable the Adderall-seeking behavior that graduates will need to compete in the work world — that is if they don’t have standing prescriptions from elementary school. When a sixth-grader isn’t paying attention in class because he’s too busy clenching his knees together so as not to piss his pants before the bell rings, he’s not learning to be a better citizen or intellectual, he’s learning to be a better prisoner, employee, or soldier.

One of Marsh’s most suggestive comparisons is the number of striking workers against the number of new college admittances over time. Although the lines crossed long ago, the juxtaposition suggests the classroom is only one possible choice in pursuing a better life, and not necessarily the best one. Elsewhere around the world, young people try to construct better lives for themselves outside the classroom, as in Spain and Greece, where students fight against the austerity and increasing economic inequality Marsh fears, or in Egypt or Tunisia where revolution is not to be confused with an SAT-prep company. Using expert knowledge no teacher could have inculcated, young hackers risk jail to expose public falsehoods and build solidarity with peers overseas by fucking around on the internet. They’re not willing to leave the problems of their inherited world for moribund labor unions or withering socialist parties. Students in America could try a different kind of strike based on what’s occurred in Cairo and Athens — out of the classroom and into the streets. And how much better would that be for their future happiness, how much better for their souls?"
2011  education  schools  schooling  schooliness  learning  labor  unions  economics  solidarity  capitalism  corporatization  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  authority  conformity  conditioning  clavinandhobbes  poverty  inequality  malcolmharris  johnmarsh  politics  class  classmobility  socialmobility  policy  edreform  why  tyranny  control  supression  liberalarts  opportunity  corporatism 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Teacher Tom: Figuring Out Those Damned ATMs
"We're so often amazed that kids figure out new technology faster and better than adults. Let me tell you why: because they play with it. In fact, that's why young children learn everything faster and better than adults. Play, not swiping fingers across screens, is what's in their DNA, it's in all of our DNA, but we've unlearned it as we've gotten older. We worry that we're going to break something or look foolish or somehow do it "wrong," so we resort to instruction manuals and tutorials and our kids to show us the way.

Why do we stop engaging new things through play as we get older? I don't know the full answer, but part it must lie in how we're taught to learn as we get older. In our society, the younger children are, the more likely it is that they are allowed the time and space to play, to explore, to discover, to make mistakes, both inside and outside the classroom. This is why most young kids tell us they like school: learning is pleasurable, exciting, and interesting when we pursue it though play. Yet as we get older, the opportunities to play become increasingly rare until by the time we hit middle school, it's pretty much all about instruction manuals and tutorials and getting the "right" answer. That's why in traditional schools, the older kids get, the more likely they are to report they hate school.

The fact that young children "take to" screen-based technology shouldn't surprise us. They also take to rocks and sticks and cardboard boxes and water and other people. We're not so impressed by that, however, because we too have mastered those things, years ago, as we freely played.

Education "reformers" have it backwards. They look at middle schools and high schools and see children struggling, hating school, so they are seeking to make our preschools and elementary schools more like middle school and high school to get them "ready." It should be the other way around: we should be trying to make the middle school and high school experience more like what we find in early years. It's not our job to make kids school ready, it's our job to make schools ready for kids. If we do that, I'll bet we'll find that even adults can figure out those damned ATMs."
2014  tomhobson  edtech  technology  education  schools  unschooling  deschooling  howweteach  play  howwelearn  learning  children  digitalnatives  middleschool  highschool  cv  school  schooling  schooliness  edreform  preschool 
june 2014 by robertogreco
My wife is a lazy liar | smithdeville
"I work at a real job, and I don’t go to nearly as many “meetings” as my wife does. Many of her meetings, she says, are focused on discussing test results, new testing procedures, testing tests, test testing, tester testing, and test testing testers. Occasionally, she says, these meeting diverge into other topics such as testing evaluations. Some meetings allegedly occur during school hours when my wife should be “teaching.” These meetings are dreamed up by highly-paid, redundant administrators who have clandestine responsibilities no one can figure out. At the end of these meetings, it is determined that “teachers” at my wife’s school are not spending enough time teaching."
education  edreform  policy  meetings  busywork  testing  organizations  standardizedtesting  adminstrativebloat  waste  schools  via:lukeneff 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Death to Common Core! Long Live Failed Education Policy! | the becoming radical
The problem for education reform, then, is not specifically Common Core, but that the evidence base shows standards-based reform has not and will not address issues of equity or achievement.

As a parallel example of how most of the current education reform commitments simply do not and cannot address the fundamental problems facing education, consider that New Orleans has now replaced the entire public school system with charter schools; the result?:
White students disproportionately attend the best charter schools, while the worst are almost exclusively populated by African American students. Activists in New Orleans joined with others in Detroit and Newark last month to file a federal civil rights complaint, alleging that the city’s best-performing schools have admissions policies that exclude African American children. Those schools are overseen by the separate Orleans Parish School Board, and they don’t participate in OneApp, the city’s centralized school enrollment lottery.


The partisan political backlash against Common Core, then, is not reason to celebrate because the essential political commitments to misguided education reform policy (such as accountability built on standards and testing, charter schools, Teach For America, and value-added methods of teacher evaluation) remain robust below the partisan posturing against Common Core as a uniquely flawed set of standards.

Adopting and implementing Common Core and the related high-stakes testing and accountability mechanisms are tremendous wastes of time and money that we cannot afford. Yes, let’s stop Common Core, but as a key step to stopping the entire flawed education reform movement built on ever-new standards and tests."
plthomas  education  commoncore  standards  poverty  schools  us  politics  policy  edreform  standardization  accountability  testing  standardizedtesting  neworleans  paulthomas  nola  charterschools  high-stakestesting 
june 2014 by robertogreco
The education question we should be asking
"Now if you regularly read education studies, you won’t be surprised to learn that the authors of this one never questioned, or even bothered to defend, the value of the science lessons they used — whether they were developmentally appropriate or presented effectively, whether they involved anything more than reading a list of facts or were likely to hold any interest for 5-year-olds.  Nor did the researchers vouch for the quality of the assessment.  Whatever raises kids’ scores (on any test, and of any material) was simply assumed to be a good thing, and anything that lowers scores is bad.

Hence the authors’ concern that children tend to be “distracted by the visual environment.”  (Translation:  They may attend to something in the room other than the facts an adult decided to transmit to them.)  And hence my friend’s wry reductio ad absurdum response.

Alas, “sparse” classrooms had their own problems. There, we’re told, children “were more likely to be distracted by themselves or by peers.”  Even if we strip everything off the walls, those pesky kids will still engage in instructionally useless behaviors like interacting with one another or thinking about things that interest them.  The researchers referred to the latter (thinking) as being “distracted by themselves.”  Mark that phrase as the latest illustration of the principle that, in the field of education, satire has become obsolete.

 Our attention seems to be fixed relentlessly on the means by which to get students to accomplish something.  We remain undistracted by anything to do with ends — what it is they’re supposed to accomplish, and whether it’s really valuable.  Perhaps that’s why schools of education typically require “methods” classes but not goals classes.  In the latter, students might be invited to read this study and ask whether a child could reasonably regard the lesson as a distraction (from her desire to think, talk, or look at a cool drawing on the wall).  Other students might object on the grounds that it’s a teacher’s job to decide what students ought to do and to maximize their “time on task.”  But such conversations — Time on what task?  Why is it being taught?  Who gets to decide? — are shut down before they begin when all we talk about (in ed. schools, in journals, in professional development sessions) is how to maximize time on whatever is assigned.[2]"
alfiekohn  attention  curriculum  distraction  learning  children  thewhy  2014  instruction  schools  education  edreform 
june 2014 by robertogreco
How ‘platooning’ and data walls are changing elementary school
"Given the obsession with assessment measures in public schools, it’s not surprising that mastering the ‘art’ of data walls is becoming a preoccupation of teachers. Blogs and other popular resource magazines encourage teachers to create student data cards that can be easily moved to reflect new assessment data in each child’s ‘dynamic’ race-to-the-top (of the wall). Reform ‘experts’ and administrators who advocate ‘making data public’ offer no research support for this practice and mistakenly believe that a scoreboard style visual will motivate teachers and students. Nearly as disturbing, is the growing trend among teachers to proudly post their data walls on pinterest. Note that this website advertises itself as “a tool for collecting and organizing things you love.” Is this what we want our elementary teachers to love? Is this really how taxpayers want their teachers to be spending their professional time?

Many educators and concerned citizens see data walls as a reprehensible way to shame and humiliate children, and not all communities are willing to comply. Agustin Morales, an English teacher at Maurice A. Donahue Elementary School in Holyoke, Massachusetts, opposes data walls along with many colleagues in his district, citing them as a cruel way to put students’ vulnerabilities on display in a high stakes testing climate, or, what teacher educator Barbara Madeloni describes as “predatory educational reform.”

Another elementary school “‘innovation” that prioritizes test scores over children is “platooning,” which ends the long-standing primary grade practice of homerooms where a teacher works with the same group of students throughout the year in all of the major subject areas. Instead, each group of students, or “platoon,” moves every 45 minutes or so to a different classroom to receive instruction from a “teacher specialist” in math, language arts, social studies, science, music, art and physical education. Under platooning, even teachers of our youngest schoolchildren are no longer charged with knowing, caring for, and understanding the nuances of their students; instead, teachers deliver specialized content that students are expected to absorb in discrete, ever more hurried periods of time. Ironically, 30 minutes of each school day is lost during these many hallway transitions.

What has precipitated platooning for children as young as 5 and 6 years old and radically altered a core feature of elementary schools? Once again, high-stakes testing and the penalties that face teachers and administrators, especially under the new Common Core State Standards, drives the creation of what could be described as elementary school boot camps for high stakes testing. Platooning students has been underway in many fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms for the last decade as administrators try to game escalating testing pressure in language arts and math by having their “best” teachers instruct all students in these two areas. The remaining grade level teachers are assigned the social studies and science curricula; however, much of their time was and continues to be spent supplementing the efforts of their language arts and math colleagues (again, to improve test scores in these two areas)."



"Who exactly is willing to publicly defend platooning, a school practice that has early elementary teachers and students chasing high-stakes test scores that don’t even begin until third grade, and requires young children to walk the halls 30 minutes of each day to reach their teachers? Do the children of our national leaders and affluent parents who send their kids to private schools get platooned like this, or have their educational experiences reduced to index cards on data walls? Of course not. Why don’t we, as a nation, demand that all students be given the educational opportunities that the children of many national leaders receive at private and affluent public schools?"
via:ablerism  us  education  testing  standardizedtesting  edreform  2014  platooning  pinterest  competition  publishaming  teaching  joeonosko  paulasalvio  cliostearns  policy  absurdity 
march 2014 by robertogreco
We 'Choose' for Poor Children Every Day - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"You challenge me: "What gives you confidence that we get to choose?" You insist that "I don't pretend for a second that I get to choose. At least not for other people's children."

But in fact you/we are choosing, every day. In acts small and big, from deciding small classes don't matter, to deciding to gentrify Manhattan. The people of Harlem didn't have a choice. It's some other "we" who are moving other people and their children to locations not specified. What/who is it that didn't "adapt"? It wasn't the working people of Detroit or New Orleans or Manhattan who failed to "adapt"—it was the industries they counted on, the expertise of those well-educated people who did have the power to make some choices and failed to do so.

It was my dear old mother who warned me about people who cry "crisis" too often. I should beware of them, she said. Tell me what years there hasn't been a "crisis" that was blamed on our public schools? (Read Richard Rothstein's The Way Things Were—it's truly a fun read.) Yes, in some ways, I'm more "conservative" than you: I know who gets hurt first when we "disrupt" regardless ....

Yes, there is a lot of money spent on education, and any good entrepreneur seeks his or her opportunities where the money is. And then looks for ways to make more. That's not a plot or a conspiracy. Just good straight thinking. But not all entrepreneurs are equal when it comes to pushing for their self-interest.

So we agree on tests? If we do, then it wasn't test scores that revealed the rot in Detroit's schools for the poor. If you walked into them, without any data, you'd know immediately that you wouldn't CHOOSE to send your children there. Although for many parents it was a "home" of a sort, better than having none.

You wouldn't CHOOSE to live where these children do either. So whites moved out—by choice—and left Detroit what it is today. Whether the kinds of solutions that those who remained are exploring are utopian or not, I'm on their side. They're trying to reconstruct a city built on a different set of assumptions—that a community can be rebuilt out of the ashes. I wish them all the best, and offer any help I can.

It's too easy, from perches of comfort and adaptability, to say that factories come and go, as do oceans and rivers and mountains, and species. But the triumph of the human species, up to now, rests on its use of its brains. We're not exempt from some "laws" of nature. Adaptation isn't accomplished overnight. If we don't use our brains better (and more empathetically) we, too, will become extinct—although I can't adapt to that idea yet!

You and I—or some other somebodies—are deciding the future of "other people's children" unless we provide ways for "them" to have a voice, a vote, and the resources to decide their own future. We need to restore a better balance between local communal life (with its power to effect some immediate changes like we did at the small self-governing schools I love) and distant, "objective" moneyed power. It's our democracy that rests on our rebuilding strength at the bottom. If we don't, we induce a passivity that surely cannot be in the self-interest of the least powerful, but might (just might) be in the self-interest of others. And then we blame them for being passive?

The experiment in democracy may or may not survive this round, but I'm not giving up on it. "Self-governance"—of, for, and by the people, Robert, is what's at stake. Do we agree that it's an essential aspiration, another way of describing what we mean by freedom within community, or communities of free citizens? If so, what would it look like in schools given, as you remind me, the realities we must all "accept"—for the moment. Until we create new realities."
deborahmeier  2014  edreform  reform  education  democracy  choice  passivity  robertpondiscio  entrepreneurship  gentrification  adaptability  opportunity  community  schools  publischools  policy  self-governance  citizenship  civics  acceptance 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Two-Headed Dragon of Education Policy | the becoming radical
"Recently, I posted a chart highlighting that current “No Excuses” Reform (NER) claims and policies are no different than traditional problems and policies in public education.*

The great ironies of NER include that NER perpetuates the inequities of society and the current education system and that NER does not seek a reformed and revolutionary public education system but a dismantling of public schools for private interests (See Ravitch, Flanagan, and Cody).

The problem in education reform parallels the problem in our two-party system: While the competing ideologies and policies have successfully masked their being different sides of the same corporate coin, the many and varied alternatives outside the either/or norm remain hidden and silenced.

Part of the success of NER, historically (before such a phrase as “no excuses” was in vogue) and currently, lies in falsely positioning progressive education as widely implemented and failed (see Kohn) and falsely positioning status quo policies as “reform.”

So let me offer another chart I use with my introductory education course that builds on the parallels (and minor differences) between traditional and progressive agendas** while including a critical alternative to the two-party education reform agenda. This chart examines the need to change theoretical and philosophical assumptions about a wide range of aspects in teaching, learning, and public education if our reform agendas seek to revitalize a public good (universal public education) for goals that include democracy, equity, and agency:

[chart comparing traditional practices (behaviorism), progressive suggestions (constructivism), and critical lens (critical pedagogy) here]

NER narratives argue that school-based reform alone can somehow revolutionize U.S. society, that social inequity can be overcome by the force of public education.

That narrative is false on two fronts: (1) We have no evidence public schools have ever been revolutionary (see Traub), (2) because public schools traditionally and currently have reflected and perpetuated the inequitable norms of the society they serve.

The privileged will never lead the revolution because the privileged benefit from the status quo."

[Also posted here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/04/1155230/-Two-Headed-Dragon-of-Education-Policy ]
education  inequality  inequity  2013  2012  paulthomas  criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  behaviorism  constructivism  progressive  progressiveeducation  teaching  learning  schools  history  power  control  publiceducation  democracy  edreform  policy  plthomas 
february 2014 by robertogreco
The misguided effort to teach ‘character’
"There is some confusion as to what to call qualities like perseverance or self-control. Some refer to them as personality traits, which in psychology refers to a set of relatively stable characteristics. Yet a quality like perseverance might change with setting, age, and task. I am dogged in writing an essay like this but become pretty squirrelly with tax forms or figuring out electronic devices.

A further, and I think major, problem with terminology and definition has to do with the widespread tendency to refer to these qualities as “noncognitive” traits or skills. To understand the problem here, consider the definition of cognition and the way it’s been distorted in our recent educational history.

Cognition traditionally refers to a wide and rich range of mental processes, from memory and attention, to comprehending and using language, to solving a difficult problem in physics or choreography or sharing an office with someone. But over the last few decades cognition has been reduced to a shadow of its former self. Under No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, cognition in education policy has increasingly come to be defined by the skills measured by standardized tests of reading and mathematics. And as economists have gotten more involved in education, they’ve needed quantitative measures of cognitive ability and academic achievement for their analytical models, so they’ve used I.Q. or other standardized test scores (like the Armed Forces Qualification Test or AFQT) as a proxy for intelligence or achievement. From the Latin cognoscere, to come to know, or cogito ergo sum, I think therefore I am, we’ve devolved to a few digits on the AFQT.

Many of those who advocate character education believe that our nation’s educational focus on cognition has been misguided. Rather than focusing our energies on the academic curriculum—or on academic intervention programs for the poor—we need to turn our attention to the development of qualities of character, for as much or more than cognition, it is these qualities that account for success in school and life.

It is healthy to be reminded about the fuller scope of education in our test- and grade-obsessed culture, but what concerns me is that the advocates for character accept without question the reductive notion of cognition that runs through our education policies, and by accepting it, further affirm it. The problem is exacerbated by the aforementioned way economists carve up and define mental activity. If cognition is represented by scores on ability or achievement tests, then anything not captured in those scores—like the desired qualities of character—is, de facto, noncognitive. We’re now left with a skimpy notion of cognition and a reductive dichotomy to boot. This downplaying of the cognitive and the construction of the cognitive/noncognitive binary will have some troubling implications for education, especially for the education of the children of the poor."



"We have a long-standing shameful tendency in America to attribute all sorts of pathologies to the poor. Writing in the mid-nineteenth century, the authors of a report from the Boston School Committee bemoaned the “undisciplined, uninstructed…inveterate forwardness and obstinacy” of their working-class and immigrant students. There was much talk in the Boston Report and elsewhere about teaching the poor “self-control,” “discipline,” “earnestness” and “planning for the future.” This language is way too familiar.

Some poor families are devastated by violence, uprooting, and substance abuse, and children are terribly affected. But some families hold together with iron-willed determination and instill values and habits of mind that middle-class families strive for. There’s as much variability among the poor as in any group, and we have to keep that fact squarely in our sights, for we easily slip into one-dimensional generalities about them.

Given a political climate that is antagonistic toward the welfare state and has further shredded our already compromised safety net, psychosocial intervention may be the only viable political response to poverty available. But can you imagine the outcry if, let’s say, an old toxic dump were discovered near Scarsdale or Beverly Hills and the National Institutes of Health undertook a program to teach kids strategies to lessen the effects of the toxins but didn’t do anything to address the dump itself?

We seem willing to accept remedies for the poor that we are not willing to accept for anyone else. We should use our science to figure out why that is so—and then develop the character and courage to fully address poverty when it is an unpopular cause."
education  cognition  character  charactereducation  pverty  mikerose  2014  grit  discipline  rttt  nclb  policy  economics  testing  standardizedtesting  inequality  afqt  psychology  personality  measurement  edreform  politics  pathlogizingthepoor  self-control 
february 2014 by robertogreco
A Poet's Warning | Harvard Magazine Nov-Dec 2007
"Yet even as the College returns to its civilian pursuits and petty vanities—students struggling with the poems of Donne, “professors back from secret missions” bragging about their adventures—Auden sees another kind of conflict taking shape. This is the war between the two sensibilities, the two social and spiritual visions, that Auden names Apollo and Hermes. Apollo, the Greek god of light and music, becomes for Auden “pompous Apollo,” the patron saint of “official art.” Against him, Auden sets Hermes, the trickster god, protector of thieves and liars, who is “precocious” and undisciplined. Both of these gods can make a kind of music, but Auden asks the reader to decide “under which lyre” he will take his stand.

The comedy of the poem, and its prescience, lies in Auden’s description of Apollo, the presiding spirit of what he calls “the fattening forties.” The danger to postwar America, the poet suggests, lies in the soft tyranny of institutions, authorities, and experts—of people who know what’s best for you and don’t hesitate to make sure you know it, too. Auden gives a wonderful catalog of the things these Apollonians want to impose: colleges where “Truth is replaced by Useful Knowledge,” with courses on “Public Relations, Hygiene, Sport”; poems that “Extol the doughnut and commend/The Common Man” (did Byron Price flinch at those lines?); even processed foods: “a glass of prune juice or a nice/Marsh-mallow salad.” In short, Auden is already predicting the dullest, most conformist aspects of American life in the Cold War years, the kind of prosperous mediocrity that gave the 1950s a bad name.

But if it’s impossible to dislodge Apollo from his throne, Auden suggests, you can still follow Hermes in private. That is why the last stanzas of “Under Which Lyre” offer a “Hermetic Decalogue,” a set of commandments for free spirits who refuse to fall into line:

Thou shalt not do as the dean pleases,
Thou shalt not write thy doctor’s thesis
On education,
Thou shalt not worship projects nor
Shalt thou or thine bow down before
Administration.

Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit
A social science.

This advice is half-joking, but only half. For Auden is reminding his Harvard audience that all the official apparatus of the university is extraneous to its highest purpose, which is to cultivate freedom and inwardness. It is a message that still needs to be heard today, when the expense of higher education forces so many students to look at it as an investment, rather than an adventure.

Auden knows that, if everyone lived by the Hermetic Decalogue all the time, the world would grind to a halt. “The earth would soon, did Hermes run it,/Be like the Balkans,” he ruefully acknowledges. A society run by Hermes would be a disaster; but a society without any followers of Hermes in it would be a nightmare. That message makes “Under Which Lyre” a truly American poem, in the tradition of Emerson and Whitman and Twain, all of them defenders of the individual against the collective. The continued life of Auden’s Phi Beta Kappa poem is a reminder that, when the generals and censors and other powers of the earth are forgotten, it is the mere poet who remains."

[Full poem: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/under-which-lyre-3/
Also here: http://members.wizzards.net/~mlworden/atyp/auden.htm
Audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZE_bhSUgG8 ]

"Professors back from secret missions
Resume their proper eruditions,
Though some regret it;
They liked their dictaphones a lot,
T hey met some big wheels, and do not
Let you forget it.



The sons of Hermes love to play
And only do their best when they
Are told they oughtn't;
Apollo's children never shrink
From boring jobs but have to think
Their work important.



But jealous of our god of dreams,
His common-sense in secret schemes
To rule the heart;
Unable to invent the lyre,
Creates with simulated fire
Official art.

And when he occupies a college,
Truth is replaced by Useful Knowledge;
He pays particular
Attention to Commercial Thought,
Public Relations, Hygiene, Sport,
In his curricula.



Thou shalt not do as the dean pleases,
Thou shalt not write thy doctor’s thesis
On education,
Thou shalt not worship projects nor
Shalt thou or thine bow down before
Administration.

Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit
A social science."
via:lukeneff  trickster  whauden  poetry  experts  administration  authority  truth  mediocrity  unschooling  deschooling  edreform  education  learning  management  self-importance  hierarchy  poems  1946  highered  highereducation  tyranny  softtyranny  authorities 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Cristal Ball | EduShyster
"Reform hits the *g* spot
You know what tastes great when you’re done *crushing* the achievement gap? A Venti soy, half-caff, caramel macchiato with two shots of vanilla syrup. And by vanilla, I mean va*nil*la. It turns out that Reform, Inc. may finally have cracked the code for overcoming poverty without actually doing anything about poverty. It’s called *gentrification,* and it’s all the rage in reformy hot spots like Chicago, Washington, DC and New Orleans. 2014 prediction: the Fordham Institute opens up a satellite office in Cleveland because, well, Cleveland rocks."



"Fick val?
Reader: have you been longing to witness a decades-long experiment with school choice for yourself but lack the krona to get to Sweden? Great news! Now you can experience the wonders of choice-i-fi-cation, right here at home. Today’s destination: Minnesota, the first state to permit charter schools, where academies of excellence and innovation are popping up like ice fishing shanties atop one of the state’s 10,000 frozen lakes. The newest of these schools share a common trait with the snow that currently blankets the North Star State: whiteness. In the last five years, the number of mostly white suburban charters grew by 40%. In fact choosy Minnesota moms and dads now have a dazzling array of single race charters to choose from. 2014 prediction: this alarming trend will be completely ignored and, thanks to reform $$ falling like snowflakes, Minnesota will only charter harder."
education  commoncore  2014  schools  learning  policy  gentrification  sweden  minnesota  poverty  jenniferberkshire  edreform  reform  chicago  washingtondc  cleveland  neworleans  dc  nola  charterschools 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Students For Education Reform? Not the Change We Need | Education on GOOD
"It all began in early August of this year. Stephanie Rivera, a student at Rutgers University and future teacher, published a gutsy, investigative piece uncovering the lunacy behind Students for Education Reform, an organization founded by two Princeton students, Catharine Bellinger and Alexis Morin. I highly suggest you read it yourself, but the commentary struck a profound chord with me for a number of reasons.

SFER has rolled out its corporate reform agenda onto over a hundred college campuses across the nation, which includes defending the takeover of public schools by charters and teacher evaluation systems that tie salaries to test scores. Don't believe me? Bellinger and Morin, marionettes of the likes of Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, Wendy Kopp, and Eli Broad, are now forcing some chapters to sign onto agreements that they carry out the mission of SFER—this was, not surprisingly, uncovered by Rivera.

SFER's primary mission is to close the achievement gap, but as education historian Camika Royal writes (referring to those who generally use the term), the organization only "speaks of academic outcomes, not the conditions that led to those outcomes, nor does it acknowledge that the outcomes are a consequence of those conditions." Where do they address on their site the putrid effects of poverty on schooling? They don't."



"In terms of funding, Education Reform Now gave SFER and Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst—or as I like to call it StudentsLast—over $1.6 million in 2010. Remember, this is an organization whose PAC is DFER, a group bankrolled by Wall Street hedge-fund titans, moguls, and a number of billionaires. That's not to mention that SFER's board members include evangelists of KIPP and Teach for America. Many of these college students do not realize they are literally being bought out. Both Bellinger and Morin are in bed with these organizations."



"A question I'd like to ask is: What is in the water at Princeton University? Two epitomes of failure in educational change—first Teach for America and now Students for Education Reform. Please, make it stop.

Educators, administrators, parents, I beg for you to not think for a second that SFER represents the voice of students. It doesn't. It is instead a mob of baby sheep, educated in obedience and submission, kowtowing to the forces that seek to obliterate public education. As a student, it's shameful and degrading watching these delinquents bash the very people who educated them, call for evaluations that reduce children to numbers, and allow for corporations and billionaires to wither away our democracy. It's a national disgrace.

Longtime teacher Susan Ohanian put it beautifully, "Either you join the revolution or you stand against the needs of children and democracy." Wake the hell up, America."
2013  nikhilgoyal  studentsforeducationreform  edreform  stephanierivera  catahrinebellinger  alexismorin  princeton  joelklein  michellerhee  wendykopp  kipp  tfa  elibroad  sfer  danagoldsteinsusanohanian  privatization  povery  schools  education  policy  testing  standardizetesting  teachforamerica  charterschools 
january 2014 by robertogreco
“A Question of Silence”: Why We Don’t Read Or Write About Education
"The lack of imagination evident in these narratives reflects the lack of real-world alternatives. In the real-world fantasylands of schooling (e.g., Finland, Cuba, Massachusetts) education looks more or less the same as it does everywhere else. In short, the system is missing—or ignores—its real antithesis, its own real death. Without that counter-argument, educational writing loses focus. Educationalists present schooling as being in a constant state of crisis. Ignoring for a second the obvious fact that without a crisis most educationalists would be out of a job—i.e., closing our eyes to their vested interest in the problem’s persistence—what does this crisis consist of? Apparently, the failure of schools to do what they are supposed to do. But what are they supposed to do? What is their purpose? And why should we stand behind their purpose? This is the line of inquiry that—can you believe it—is ignored.

Of all the civic institutions that reproduce social relations, said Louis Althusser, “one… certainly has the dominant role, although hardly anyone lends an ear to its music: it is so silent! This is the School.” That statement was made in 1970, by which time school buses zigzagged the cities every working morning and afternoon, school bells rang across city and countryside, the words “dropout” and “failure” had become synonymous, education schools were in full swing, and school reform had gained its permanent nook on the prayer-wheel of electoral campaigns. In other words: what silence?

Althusser, of course, was referring to the absence of schooling as a topic in critical discourse. In this regard he was, and continues to be, accurate. The few paragraphs that he appended to the above-quoted statement may well be the only coherent critique of schooling in the upper echelons of critical theory. Critical theory, which has written volumes on Hollywood, television, the arts, madhouses, social science, the state, the novel, speech, space, and every other bulwark of control or resistance, has consistently avoided a direct gaze at schooling (see footnote). ((Here follows a cursory tally of what critical theorists (using the term very loosely to include some old favorite cultural critics) have written on education. I won’t be sad if readers find fault with it:

Horkheimer is silent. Barthes and Brecht, the same. Adorno has one essay and one lecture. Marcuse delivered a few perfunctory lectures on the role of university students in politics—but he makes it clear that you can’t build on them (university politics as well as the lectures, sadly). Derrida has some tantalizing pronouncements, particularly in Glas (“What is education? The death of the parents…”), but they are scattered and more relevant to the family setting than the school. Something similar, unfortunately, could be said of Bachelard—why was he not nostalgic about his education? Baudrillard, Lefebvre, and Foucault all seem interested in the question, if we judge by their interviews and lectures—and wouldn’t it be lovely to hear from them—but they never go into any depth. Even Althusser’s essay, Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, which contains the above quote, quickly shies away from the topic: instead, he concentrates on the Church. In short, professional critical philosophy might have produced a more interesting study of Kung Fu Panda (see Žižek, who is also silent) than of the whole business of education. The one exception would be Rancière’s The Ignorant Schoolmaster, which I will discuss.)) Even Foucault, champion of enclosures, keeps out of the schoolhouse. ((Part III of Discipline and Punish includes a discussion, but his analysis there is mixed with all the other institutions that exercise punishment. The only direct references are in two lecture-discussions with students, both from 1971.)) The silence is particularly striking if we see radical philosophy itself as an educational endeavor, an enterprise concerned with ways of seeing and doing.

It’s not that there are no critical conversations within education—there are, and I will discuss them soon. But I think the silence of radical philosophers is emblematic of some special problems in the relationship between education and society."



"Progressive educators, who as a rule crave resources and ideas from outside their field, nonetheless did not seem bothered by the new seclusion. They even welcomed it. Today, every schoolteacher, admin, or researcher learns as part of her training to show open disdain for any opinion on education that doesn’t come from inside the field (“but has she taught?”). In American education schools, it’s possible to get a doctorate without having been assigned a single book from outside your field. Education is such an intensely social process (think of any classroom vignette, all the forces at play) that this intellectual swamp could only survive by a sheer will to isolation. Educationalists need this privacy partly because it allows them to ignore the core contradictions of their practice. The most important of these contradictions is that they have to uphold public schooling as a social good, and at the same time face up to the fact that schooling is one of the most oppressive institutions humanity has constructed. It has to be built up as much as it needs to be torn down brick by brick.

This dilemma bedevils the majority of writing by the most active educationalists. The redoubtable Deborah Meier is a good example—good, because she really is. Meier is the godmother of the small school movement in the United States. She has dedicated her life to making schools more humane and works with more energy than entire schools of education put together. Her philosophical base is one of Dewey’s pragmatism and American-style anarchism. She is also in a unique position to understand the contradictions of schooling, because she has built alternative schools and then watched them lose their momentum and revert to traditional models. What’s more, Meier can write. But when she writes, her books take titles like Keeping School and In Schools We Trust. In which schools, exactly? Not the same ones through which most of us suffered, I assume; rather, the progressive, semi-democratic ones on the fringes of the public system. The problem, apparently, is not schooling itself. It’s just that, inexplicably, the vast majority of schools fail to get it right. The “reformed school” is a sort of sublime object: something that does not quite exist, but whose potential existence justifies the continuation of what is actually there.

We are all familiar with this type of “we oppose the war but support the troops” liberal double-talk, a pernicious language game that divests all ground agents of responsibility—as if there could be a war without soldiers (though we seem to be moving that way) or bad classrooms without teachers. Now, it wouldn’t be fair to place the blame squarely on the teachers’ shoulders—considering the poor education they themselves receive in the first place—but we must also expose this kind of double-talk for what it really is: an easy out. And it is an easy out that abandons the oppressed: in this case, those students who actively resist teachers, those last few who have not been browbeaten or co-opted into submission. ((When Michelle Rhee, the (former) chancellor of public schools in Washington D.C., began shutting down schools, liberals tore their shirts and pulled their hair and finally ousted her. Very few people mentioned that those schools—a veritable prison system—should have been shut down. The problem was not the closures—the problem was that Rhee, like other Republican spawns of her generation, is a loudmouth opportunist who offered no plan beyond her PR campaign. What’s striking is that Rhee was using the exact same language of “crisis” and “reform” as progressives, and nothing in the language itself made her sound ridiculous. Since then, progressives have eased up a little on the crisis talk.))

Because the phenomenon of student resistance to education so blatantly flies in the face of the prevailing liberal mythology of schooling, it is a topic that continues to attract some genuine theorization. ((For a review of literature and some original thoughts, see Henry Giroux’s Resistance and Theory in Education (1983). For a more readable discussion of the same, see Herbert Kohl’s I Won’t Learn From You (1991).)) It’s also a topic that is closely tied to another intractable bugaboo of the discussion: the staggering dropout rate, in the US at least, among working class and immigrant students, and particularly among blacks and Latinos. Education is the civil rights issue of our time—Obama and Arne Duncan’s favorite slogan—was originally a rallying cry among black educationalists. ((The latter, in case you don’t know, is Obama’s Secretary of Education. A (very thin) volume could be written on the absolute lack of political and intellectual gumption that he epitomizes. To the Bush-era, bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act (a severe and ineffective set of testing requirements), Duncan added the Race to the Top initiative, thus bringing much unintentional clarity to the discourse: education reform is a race in which no one’s left behind.)) But if we understand a “civil rights struggle” to be, fundamentally, the story of the disenfranchised and the marginalized classes’ resistance to structural oppression, then this seemingly simple phrase is haunted by a kind of dramatic irony—since a great deal of research shows that what many black and working class students actively resist is schooling itself. Further studies showed that even those underserved students who succeed in schools persevere by dividing their identities; by cordoning off their critical impulses; by maintaining their disaffection even while they keep it well out of the teacher’s sight."



"A fundamental problem is that education demands a scientific foothold … [more]
education  unschooling  canon  houmanharouni  2013  criticaleducation  theory  eleanorduckworth  deborahmeier  jeanpiaget  paulofreire  ivanillich  karlmarx  society  schooling  oppression  class  liberals  progressive  progressives  theleft  paulgoodman  sartre  theodoreadorno  michellerhee  reform  edreform  nclb  rttt  radicalism  revolution  1968  herbertmarcuse  power  policy  politics  teaching  learning  jaquesrancière  arneduncan  foucault  louisalthusser  deschooling  frantzfanon  samuelbowles  herbertgintis  jenshoyrup  josephjacotot  praxis  johndewey  philosophy  criticaltheory  henrygiroux  herbertkohl  jeananyon  work  labor  capitalism  neoliberalism  liberalism  progressiveeducation  school  schooliness  crisis  democracy  untouchables  mythology  specialization  isolation  seclusion  piaget  michelfoucault  althusser  jean-paulsartre 
december 2013 by robertogreco
"Let's declare education a disaster and get on with our lives," by Frank Smith Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 76, 1995
"I have a serious suggestion to make. We should stop worrying about the problems of education, declare it a disaster, and let teachers and students get on with their lives. The trouble with the endless concern over "problems" in education is that many well-meaning but often misguided and sometimes meddlesome people believe that solutions must exist. They waste their own and other people's time and energy trying to find and implement these solutions. Typically, they try harder to do more of something that is already being done (although what is being done is probably one of the problems).
However, if education is a disaster, then it is not a collection of problems to be "solved," and trying to "improve" what we are already doing will only make the situation worse. You don't find solutions to disasters - you try to extricate yourself and other people from them. The way to survive a disaster is to do something different."



"We delude ourselves when we think of education (or the economy) as something coherent, logical, and rational that human beings have reflected upon and designed with a clear purpose in mind, like the internal combustion engine, a jet aircraft, or even the common teakettle." 



"Changing the Way We Think About Education

Many of our troubles in education arise from the fact that we are so concerned about learning. I would go so far as to suggest that all our talk about learning is counterproductive and that we should (if we could control language) stop using the word. I know it will be argued that learning is the entire purpose of education, but that doesn't mean that it should demand all our attention - or even most of it. Learning is an outcome, not a process, and if we focus only on the outcome, then we can easily get necessary preconditions all wrong.

Let me start with an analogy. We are concerned that children should grow physically, say an average of two inches a year over a particular period of their lives, and that their body temperature should stay close to a healthy 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. These are desirable outcomes, but in raising children we don't continually focus on the achievement of these states of affairs. We don't stretch or shrink children to ensure they are the right size, nor do we constantly warm or refrigerate them so that their temperature stays at the approved level. We are more concerned with clothing and nourishing them properly. Our concern should always be with those conditions in which growth is a natural and inevitable outcome."



"We must get away from the idea that everything would be fine with our educational institutions if only teachers and students worked harder. That is why we should no longer talk about schools in the language that has made them what they are today. Attempting to "improve" the current rituals of schools or to do them more assiduously will only make matters worse. Education is on the wrong track largely because of "solutions" that have socially isolated teachers and students from one another and from sensible ways of spending their time."



Learning is usually seen as an incremental activity. We are supposed to learn by adding bits of knowledge or information to the store we have already accumulated. Every new thing learned is another block added to the tower of what we know already, another item in the cognitive data bank. Occasionally, we talk about learning as "growth" or "development," but we are usually not referring to the way a tree or the human body grows. Natural growth is not additive. Babies do not grow by having successive inches added to their height. The increase in their height is simply an indicator that the entire organism has developed, not necessarily at the same rate OF in the same propound baby is not the equivalent of two 10-pound babies, one on top of the other. Nor does the larger infant have more limbs or more organs.

Learning, like physical growth, is not a consequence of external pressure; we don't even learn as a result of trying harder. All of us have experienced failure to learn something that we wanted to learn, despite intense motivation and effort. Yet other things we make no particular effort to memorize - like major news items, gossip, the scores in a sport in which we are interested, and even the antics of characters in television sitcoms - seem to become imprinted on our minds without effort.

The reason is the difference between learning and rote memorization, which boosters of testing and instructional planning totally overlook. Deliberate memorization - such as rehearsing facts until we take a test or holding a telephone number in our minds until we can dial it - requires conscious effort. The forced ingestion of facts and data is useless for educational purposes. It has a half-life of a few hours, at most a few days. After the examination we rarely remember much of what we tried to cram into our minds before it. What we remember from fruitless efforts to memorize are the stress and the failure inevitably involved.

Learning is also like physical growth in that it usually occurs without our being aware of it, it is long-lasting, and it requires a nurturing environment. It takes place as a result of social relationships (including relationships with the authors of books and with characters in books), and it pivots on personal identification. We learn from the kind of person we see ourselves as being like. Such conditions are annihilated by information-transmission teaching and constant tests.

Saving Ourselves and Our Students

I have a couple of suggestions about how teachers might begin to save themselves and their students from the overcontrolled, overmanaged, oversystematized, and overresearched disaster that is education. The first is to change the way we talk about schools, and the second is to change the way we behave in them.

We should change the way we talk about schools by talking less about learning and teaching and more about doing. When we focus on teaching specific skills, students frequently fail to learn them and rarely become enthusiastic about engaging in them voluntarily. When we concern ourselves with engaging students in interesting and comprehensible activities, then they learn. All of them may not learn at the same time, at the same rate, or even with the same enthusiasm. But such individual variation is inevitable, and we must recognize and accept it. Homogenization never works in education, nor should we want or expect it to."



"Instead of talking all the time about what teachers should teach and what students should learn, we should talk about what teachers and students should do. We should talk about experiences that they should be mutually engaged in - experiences involving reading, writing, imagining, creating, calculating, constructing, producing, and performing. Can't think of any? Sorry - but you must use your imagination (and that of your students), not rely on experts or authorities outside the classroom to tell you.
"



"Yes, but you're not giving us any specific suggestions about what teachers should do when they cast off from the ship.

That's because I don't have any specific suggestions, because I don't believe that anyone has the right to tell teachers what to do or that any teacher has the right to expect to be told. Decisions should be made in the lifeboats, not on the sinking liner or from the distant shore. Teachers should know when their students are doing (and learning) worthwhile things and when their students are doing (and learning) things that will be damaging to their personal and social development. (Teachers who don't know the difference shouldn't be in a classroom.) Teachers need support, and they need to share experience. But the way to achieve these ends is through collegiality, not through hierarchical structures. Teachers must save themselves, and they can best do that by observing and supporting one another.

The education system may not be amenable to change - but people are. Every meaningful situation in school that is interesting, comprehensible, and encouraging to everyone concerned is another lifeboat launched. This is something that all teachers should be able to recognize and accomplish; the world is full of teachers who are already doing so. And if teachers can't get their students on one lifeboat, they must be sure that they get aboard another. There must be enough lifeboats to provide a constant shuttle from the disaster of the education system to the sanctuary of teachers and students mutually engaged in sensible and productive activities, which are the sole justification for education."
franksmith  1995  education  restart  workingfromwithin  changefromwithin  change  unschooling  deschooling  reform  edreform  growth  learning  schools  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Education in the Age of Globalization » Blog Archive » China Enters “Testing-free” Zone: The New Ten Commandments of Education Reform
"No standardized tests, no written homework, no tracking. These are some of the new actions China is taking to lessen student academic burden. The Chinese Ministry of Education released Ten Regulations to Lessen Academic Burden for Primary School Students this week for public commentary. The Ten Regulations are introduced as one more significant measure to reform China’s education, in addition to further reduction of academic content, lowering the academic rigor of textbooks, expanding criteria for education quality, and improving teacher capacity.

The regulations included in the published draft are:

1. Transparent admissions. Admission to a school cannot take into account any achievement certificates or examination results. Schools must admit all students based on their residency without considering any other factors.

2. Balanced Grouping. Schools must place students into classes and assign teachers randomly. Schools are strictly forbidden to use any excuse to establish “fast-track” and “slow-track” classes.

3. “Zero-starting point” Teaching. All teaching should assume all first graders students begin at zero proficiency. Schools should not artificially impose higher academic expectations and expedite the pace of teaching.

4. No Homework. No written homework is allowed in primary schools. Schools can however assign appropriate experiential homework by working with parents and community resources to arrange field trips, library visits, and craft activities.

5. Reducing Testing. No standardized testing is allowed for grades 1 through 3; For 4th grade and up, standardized testing is only allowed once per semester for Chinese language, math, and foreign language. Other types of tests cannot be given more than twice per semester.

6. Categorical Evaluation. Schools can only assess students using the categories of “Exceptional, Excellent, Adequate, and Inadequate,” replacing the traditional 100-point system.

7. Minimizing Supplemental Materials. Schools can use at most one type of materials to supplement the textbook, with parental consent. Schools and teachers are forbidden to recommend, suggest, or promote any supplemental materials to students.

8. Strictly Forbidding Extra Class. Schools and teachers cannot organize or offer extra instruction after regular schools hours, during winter and summer breaks and other holidays. Public schools and their teachers cannot organize or participate in extra instructional activities.

9. Minimum of One Hour of Physical Exercise. Schools are to guarantee the offering of physical education classes in accordance with the national curriculum, physical activities and eye exercise during recess.

10. Strengthening Enforcement. Education authorities at all levels of government shall conduct regular inspection and monitoring of actions to lessen student academic burden and publish findings. Individuals responsible for academic burden reduction are held accountable by the government."
yongzhao  2013  china  policy  education  edreform  admissions  tracking  evaluations  assessment  standards  standardizedtexting  homework  testing  teaching  learning  schools  schooling 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Why Common Core Standards Will Succeed | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice
"Reform-minded policy elites–top federal and state officials, business leaders, and their entourages with unlimited access to media (e.g., television, websites, print journalism)–use these talking points to engage the emotions and, of course, spotlight public schools as the reasons why the U.S. is not as globally competitive as it should be. By focusing on the Common Core, charter schools, and evaluating teachers on the basis of student test scores, these decision-makers have shifted public attention away from fiscal and tax policies and economic structures that not only deepen and sustain poverty in society but also reinforce privilege of the top two percent of wealthy Americans. Policy elites have banged away unrelentingly at public schools as the source of national woes for decades.

National, state, and local opinion-makers in the business of school reform know that what matters is not evidence, not research studies, not past experiences with similar reforms–what matters is the appearance of success. Success is 45 states adopting standards, national tests taken by millions of students, and public acceptance of Common Core. Projecting positive images (e.g., the film Waiting for Superman, “everyone goes to college”) and pushing myths (e.g., U.S schools are broken, schools are an arm of the economy) that is what counts in the theater of school reform.

Within a few years–say, by 2016, a presidential election year–policy elites will declare the new standards a “success” and, hold onto your hats, introduce more and better and standards and tests.

This happened before with minimum competency tests in the 1970s. By 1980, thirty-seven states had mandated these tests for grade-to-grade promotion and high school graduation. The Nation at Risk report (1983) judged these tests too easy since most students passed them. So goodbye to competency tests. That happened again in the 1990s with the launching of upgraded state curriculum standards (e.g., Massachusetts) and then NCLB and later Common Core came along. It is happening now and will happen again.

Policy elites see school reform as a form of theater. Blaming schools for serious national problems, saying the right emotionally-loaded words, and giving the appearance of doing mighty things to solve the “school” problem matter far more than hard evidence or past experiences with similar reforms."
larrycuban  policy  edreform  commoncore  politics  businessasusual  standards  2013  success  theater  blame  schools  publicschools  poverty  inequality  economics  distraction 
august 2013 by robertogreco
When Schools Become Dead Zones of the Imagination: A Critical Pedagogy Manifesto
"Critical pedagogy must reject teaching being subordinated to the dictates of standardization, measurement mania and high stakes testing. The latter are part of a pedagogy of repression and conformity and have nothing to do with an education for empowerment. Central to the call for a critical pedagogy and the formative and institutional culture that makes it possible is the need to reconfigure government spending and to call for less spending on death and war and more on funding for education and the social programs that make it possible as a foundation for a democratic society. Schools are about more than measurable utility, the logic of instrumentality, abject testing, and mind-numbing training. In fact, the latter have little to do with critical education and pedagogy and must be rejected as part of an austerity and neoliberal project that is deeply anti-intellectual, authoritarian, and antidemocratic."



"Under neoliberalism, it has become more difficult to respond to the demands of the social contract, public good, and the social state, which have been pushed to the margins of society - viewed as both an encumbrance and a pathology. And yet such a difficulty must be overcome in the drive to reform public education. The struggle over public education is the most important struggle of the 21st century because it is one of the few public spheres left where questions can be asked, pedagogies developed, modes of agency constructed and desires mobilized, in which formative cultures can be developed that nourish critical thinking, dissent, civic literacy and social movements capable of struggling against those antidemocratic forces that are ushering in dark, savage and dire times. We are seeing glimpses of such a struggle in Chicago and other states as well as across the globe and we can only hope that such movements offer up not merely a new understanding of the relationship among pedagogy, politics, and democracy, but also one that infuses both the imagination and hope for a better world."
henrygiroux  criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  2013  manifestos  assessment  inequality  politics  power  democracy  unschooling  deschooling  capitalism  community  noamchomsky  neoliberalism  edreform  education  policy  civics  criticalthinking  dissent  discourse  publiceducation 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: The Purpose of the Common Core is Creating "Better" Data
"It is incredibly important to reformers to be able to say things like "This teacher/school produced three more months of learning than that one." It is essentially the whole ball game. It is also pretty much a load of crap. But it is somewhat less bogus if you have the opportunity to authoritatively redefine the nature of learning on a year by year basis, limited to things that are relatively easily tested. That's the whole point of the Common Core, to tighten up and entrench their whole construct."
tomhoffman  commoncore  2013  standards  standardization  assessment  yearoveryear  edreform  education  policy 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Society of Control
"We are in a generalized crisis in relation to all the environments of enclosure--prison, hospital, factory, school, family. The family is an "interior," in crisis like all other interiors--scholarly, professional, etc. The administrations in charge never cease announcing supposedly necessary reforms: to reform schools, to reform industries, hospitals, the armed forces, prisons. But everyone knows that these institutions are finished, whatever the length of their expiration periods. It's only a matter of administering their last rites and of keeping people employed until the installation of the new forces knocking at the door. These are the societies of control, which are in the process of replacing disciplinary societies. "Control" is the name Burroughs proposes as a term for the new monster, one that Foucault recognizes as our immediate future. Paul Virilio also is continually analyzing the ultrarapid forms of free-floating control that replaced the old disciplines operating in the time frame of a closed system. There is no need to invoke the extraordinary pharmaceutical productions, the molecular engineering, the genetic manipulations, although these are slated to enter the new process. There is no need to ask which is the toughest regime, for it's within each of them that liberating and enslaving forces confront one another. For example, in the crisis of the hospital as environment of enclosure, neighborhood clinics, hospices, and day care could at first express new freedom, but they could participate as well in mechanisms of control that are equal to the harshest of confinements. There is no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons."

[via http://www.murdoch.edu.au/School-of-Education/Research/Deleuze-Conference-2013/
via http://critical-theory.com/submit-abstracts-deleuze-guattari-schizoanalysis-education/
a portion translated there as: ]

"We’re in the midst of a general breakdown of all sites of confinement – prisons, hospitals, schools, families. The family is an “interior” that’s breaking down like all other interiors – educational, professional and so on. (...) Educational reforms, industrial reforms, hospital, army, prison reforms; but everyone knows these institutions are more or less in terminal decline. (...) It is not a question of worrying or hoping for the best, but of finding new weapons."
gillesdeleuze  deleuze  politics  surveillance  theory  1990  institutions  reform  edreform  decline  change  crisis 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Moving at the Speed of Creativity | Getting it WRONG: The Economist on Educational Technology, Testing and School Reform
"Two articles published in The Economist‘s print and online magazines at the end of June 2013 are filled with errors and misleading statements concerning educational technology, testing, and school reform. The articles, “E-ducation: A long-overdue technological revolution is at last under way” and “Catching on at last: New technology is poised to disrupt America’s schools, and then the world’s” are both dated June 29, 2013. Here are the misleading statements, falsehoods, and outright lies the articles portray as truth in the name of further discrediting public school systems in the United States as failing, incapable of meaningful improvement or reform, and in need of private companies through charter schools and online programs saving the day after “evil teacher unions” are finally discarded by an indignant public sick of “lazy teachers” standing in the way of corporate America’s educational reform agenda."
wesleyhill  education  policy  edreform  theeconomicst  2013  unions  teacherunions  privatization  manipulation  falsehoods  commoncore  technology  edtech  charterschools  rocketshipschools 
july 2013 by robertogreco
What parents really think about school reform
"*Fifty-eight percent of parents polled  said they view public schools as the single most important institution for the future of their community and of their nation.

*The two biggest problems facing public schools are too much testing and too little funding — both at 32 percent. Third on the list is large class sizes (23 percent), fourth is lack of support for teachers (17 percent) and fifth, poor teacher quality (16 percent).

*Fifty-seven percent said testing has taken away too much time from teaching and learning.

*Sixty-four percent said standardized tests given by their state do not accurately measure student achievement.

*Sixty-eight percent of parents are satisfied with their children’s public schools, including 66 percent of parents with children in urban schools and 62 percent of parents with incomes under $50,000.

*Seventy-six percent oppose reduced funding for traditional public schools to increase spending on public charter schools."
education  opinion  publicopinion  2013  polls  parents  community  publicschools  edreform  policy  politics  choice  teaching  learning  testing  standardizedtesting  charterschools 
july 2013 by robertogreco
The Gates Effect - Special Reports - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"The tactics of these foundations reflect broader trends that have transformed philanthropy in recent years. Since the 1990s, much of the foundation world has adopted elements of the "venture" or "catalytic" philanthropy model. The playbook? Be strategic. Tie everything to an overarching plan. Assess results rigorously. Cut losses quickly after failures.

And even the biggest of the foundations have come to feel, especially since the brutal recession, that the best way to make a difference is to tap into, or "leverage," government money, through federal and state advocacy. They have the ears of lawmakers and regulators, but they answer to neither voters nor shareholders.

"In a democracy, these are arguably the least democratic of institutions," says Scott L. Thomas, a scholar of higher education at Claremont Graduate University who has studied Gates and Lumina. "And they're having an outsized influence on education policy.""
gatesfoundation  democracy  2013  highered  highereducation  education  edreform  extrademocracy  government  influence  policy  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
july 2013 by robertogreco
New data shows school “reformers” are full of it - Salon.com
"In other words, elite media organizations (which, in many cases, have their own vested financial interest in education “reform”) go out of their way to portray the anti-public-education movement as heroic rather than what it really is: just another get-rich-quick scheme shrouded in the veneer of altruism.

That gets to the news that exposes “reformers’” schemes — and all the illusions that surround them. According to a new U.S. Department of Education study, “about one in five public schools was considered high poverty in 2011 … up from about to one in eight in 2000.” This followed an earlier study from the department finding that “many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding … leav(ing) students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers.”

Those data sets powerfully raise the question that “reformers” are so desperate to avoid: Are we really expected to believe that it’s just a coincidence that the public education and poverty crises are happening at the same time? Put another way: Are we really expected to believe that everything other than poverty is what’s causing problems in failing public schools?

Because of who comprises it and how it is financed, the education “reform” movement has a clear self-interest in continuing to say yes, we should believe such fact-free pabulum. And you can bet that movement will keep saying “yes” — and that the corporate media will continue to cheer them as heroes for saying “yes” — as long as public education money keeps being diverted into corporate coffers."
education  politics  reform  edreform  2013  statistics  poverty  schools  accountability  michellerhee  teaching  learning  us  policy  michaelbloomberg  nyc  rahmemmanuel  chicago  inequality  wallstreet  specialinterests  unions  teachersunions  teachers  arneduncan  incomegap  davidsirota  seanreardon 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The Coming Revolution in Public Education - John Tierney - The Atlantic
"• It's what history teaches us to expect.

• Education policies based on standardization and uniformity tend to fail.

[Related: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jep/3336451.0014.103/--why-standardization-efforts-fail?rgn=main;view=fulltext ]

• Policies based on distrust of teachers tend to fail.

• Judging teachers' performance by students' test scores is both substantively and procedurally flawed.

• More people are realizing that many of the organizations involved in "corporate reform" seem to need reforming themselves.

• People wonder why reformers themselves aren't held accountable."
education  policy  trust  2013  schools  schooling  reform  edreform  johntierney  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  commoncore  local  testscores  us  capitalism  business  pearson  accountability  teaching  learning  dianeravitch  thomaspaine  pushback  davidpatten  geraldconti  michellerhee  doublestandards  richardelmore  mildbreywallinmclaughlin  incentives  corruption  motivation 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: That Depends Which Education Reform Movement You're Talking About
"Ten years ago, "school reform" at least equally applied to Deborah Meier and Ted Sizer as it did to, say, Joel Klein.

In the intervening decade, I've become a social software curmudgeon -- you'll pull Blogger from my cold, dead hands -- and yielded the "ed reformer" tag to people and practices I hate.

Basically, in both cases, the money men started to roll in and roll over the geeks and the teachers who were building tools and schools with an eye to something other than the market, or market-based logic. We're only just now hitting the point where it is clear the grifters are rolling into schools like Visigoths, but even when the point hasn't been to make money directly, it has been to apply the methods of business to education.

It has taken a while to sort out, but at this point many of the leading figures in screwing up the internet are also leaders in screwing up education (reform): Gates, Zuckerberg, Jobs (RIP), etc. It isn't hard to tease out the common thread. The earnest geeks who do things, understand how things work, and care about actual people get rolled by the big money guys. That's it."
edreform  edtech  tomhoffman  2013  billgates  markzuckerberg  stevejobs  grifters  business  education  internet  deborahmeier  tedsizer  joelklein  alexanderrusso  anildash  money  economics  techsector  predictability  society  inequity  disparity  visigoths  schools  learning  purpose  evil  bigmoney 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Richard Elmore: Futures of School Reform - C-SPAN Video Library
"general drift here is from left to more radical... I do not believe that the institutional structure of public schooling anymore. I view the work that I continue to do with schools, and I take it seriously, as palliative care for a dying institution.""

"The central organizing principle for society and for learning...is going to be network relationships."

"It will not accommodate well, in fact the longer we stay with the hierarchy model, the worse the disassociation between learning and schooling will be."

"The mobile classroom in the mobile public schools in this country is designed point for point to be exactly the opposite of what we are learning about humans, how human beings develop cognitively."

"how do we handle issues of access when learning starts to migrate away from schooling?… what is the mechanism by which neuroscience becomes part of the way we think about learning and what consequences does that have for the way we design learning environments? I refuse to call them schools."

[Alt link: http://www.c-span.org/video/?308871-1/EducationReform28 ]
networkrelationships  relationships  adhoc  informal  informallearning  schooling  thisishuge  edreform  reform  neuroscience  change  networks  networkedlearning  institutionalization  institutions  self-servinginstitutions  flattening  policy  scale  sugatamitra  hierarchies  nestedhierarchies  bureaucracy  hierarchy  cv  lcproject  learning  teaching  2012  radicalism  radicals  deschooling  unschooling  richardelmore  via:lukeneff  education  radicalization  canon  horizontality 
november 2012 by robertogreco
On leadership and innovation: 'dogma has no place in university culture' | Higher Education Network | Guardian Professional
"The expansion of knowledge and the degree of certainty are inversely proportional. In the measure in which one is educated, the more one knows and discovers, the more one becomes certain of one's lack of knowledge of the universe, which drives one to keep learning. For this reason, intellectual vanity is not an attribute of those who know their limits, but rather of those who pretend to know what they do not know.

Knowledge does not admit vanity or egotism. Participation is the opposite of authoritarianism and to know in order to share and to give honours humankind. Governing universities in the absence of the full participation of the university community and society will inevitably push them towards forms of authoritarianism that are contrary to their spirit and their ethical practice."
management  administration  policy  politics  tcsnmy  edreform  authoritarianism  participation  hierarchy  control  power  egotism  flexibility  ignorance  intellectualvanity  innovation  leadership  certainty  uncertainty  knowledge  ethics  highereducation  highered  2012  miguelangelescotet 
july 2012 by robertogreco
What the U.S. can’t learn from Finland about ed reform - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post
"In the United States, education is mostly viewed as a private effort leading to individual good. The performances of individual students and teachers are therefore in the center of the ongoing school reform debate. By contrast, in Finland, education is viewed primarily as a public effort serving a public purpose. As a consequence, education reforms in Finland are judged more in terms of how equitable the system is for different learners. This helps to explain the difference between the American obsession with standardized testing and the Finnish fixation on each school’s ability to cope with individual differences and social inequality. The former is driven by excellence, the latter by equity."
via:tom.hoffman  us  finland  equity  equality  inequality  poverty  policy  education  standardizedtesting  society  socialinequity  differentiation  standardization  2012  politics  mindset  edreform 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Michelle Rhee eager for spotlight, but not in cheating scandal
"Always, she preens for the cameras. Early in her chancellorship, she was trailed for a story by the education correspondent of “PBS NewsHour,” John Merrow.<br />
<br />
At one point, Ms. Rhee asked if his crew wanted to watch her fire a principal. “We were totally stunned,” Mr. Merrow said.<br />
<br />
She let them set up the camera behind the principal and videotape the entire firing. “The principal seemed dazed,” said Mr. Merrow. “I’ve been reporting 35 years and never seen anything like it.”"<br />
<br />
[An action like this is reason alone to ignore Rhee's opinion about how schools can be improved. Anyone who treats people in this way, should have nothing to do with education, what should be one of the most humane of all societal endeavors.]
via:rushtheiceberg  education  michellerhee  behavior  cruelty  edreform  reform  policy  politics  2011 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Budgeting for Ignorance | Truthout
"Will Rogers said that when Congress is in session, the public gets the same panicky feeling as "when the baby gets hold of a hammer."<br />
<br />
Rogers' observation can also be applied to the mayhem that has broken out in various smash-happy state legislatures. All across the country, right-wing zealots are wielding their little ideological hammers to destroy common sense and wreck the common good. These anti-government extremists are going after everything from the basic rights of workers to our crucial environmental protections.<br />
<br />
Their most shameful assault, however, is on our public schools. They're not merely clobbering teachers and shattering education budgets; they're after the very idea of public education. A few years ago, Debbie Riddle, a boneheaded Texas legislator, asked: "Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education?" The Republican then sputtered that "It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell."…"
2011  jimhightower  education  publicschools  policy  politics  government  us  edreform  rightwing 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Will · How Can You Not Be Angry?
"But here’s the thing: If you’re a public school educator in the U.S. right now, how can you not be angry? How can you not be doing something, even if it is just a profanity laced Tweet? The profession is being trampled. Politicians and businessmen with no background in education are driving reform. And our students are stuck in a system that still thinks it’s the 19th Century. By any standard, including the tests, our kids are not being well served, especially those who live in poverty. As a community, we’re in a fight, whether we like it or not, yet we seem more inclined to figure out Google+ than to make our voices heard to the policy makers who seem to have no desire to figure out what’s best for our children and care more about their re-election campaigns. <br />
<br />
I mean really…what’s it going to take?"
willrichardson  activism  apathy  politics  education  reform  policy  language  profanity  comments  teachers  teaching  anger  2011  edreform 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Fact-Challenged Policy
"Last week…Bill Gates published an op-ed in WaPost, “How Teacher Development could Revolutionize our Schools,” proposing that American public schools should do a better job of evaluating effectiveness of teachers, a goal w/ which none can disagree. But his specific prescriptions, & the urgency he attaches to them, are based on the misrepresentation of one fact, the misinterpretation of another & the demagogic presentation of a 3rd. It is remarkable that someone associated w/ technology & progress should have such a careless disregard for accuracy when it comes to the education policy in which he is now so deeply involved.

Gates’ most important factual claim is that “over the past four decades, the per-student cost of running our K-12 schools has more than doubled, while our student achievement has remained virtually flat.” And, he adds, “spending has climbed, but our percentage of college graduates has dropped compared with other countries.” Let’s examine these factual claims:"
economics  evaluation  billgates  reform  teaching  learning  education  misrepresentation  data  truth  2011  policy  politics  edreform  arneduncan  achievementgap 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Randy Turner: The Failure of American Teachers
"And that brings me to the sole reason I have changed my mind about the competence of American public schoolteachers -- if we were doing our job, somewhere along the line we would have taught the politicians who are systematically destroying public education, the greatest of all American experiments, something about decency, respect, and developing the mortal fortitude to resist the siren song of the special interests who are well on their way to making the U. S. into a world of haves and have-nots, where public education will serve to provide low paid feeder stock for non-union companies and taxpayer-financed private schools will continue to cater to the elite, with the middle class existing only in history books.<br />
<br />
Public schoolteachers have failed miserably by producing the most incompetent, mean-spirited legislators in U.S. history."
politics  education  teachers  edreform  failureofteachers  teaching  schools  publicschools  democracy  learning  2011  policy  government  randyturner 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Standardized Tests and Foul Shooting: Look Out, Michael Jordan! « Educational Technology and Change Journal
"So the next time the U.S. basketball team fails to win an Olympic gold medal or world championship, instead of doing silly things like finding the right coach or more dedicated players, I have a much better idea. Let’s launch GAFSP — the Great American Foul Shooting Program. Every 4th, 8th, and 12th grader will be required to practice free throw shooting daily until we know through continual assessment that our basketball superiority is forever secure. We’ll pattern it on No Child Left Behind — you know the drill. No allowing for “pushouts” this time around, though. Our reputation as the world’s Greatest Basketball Power is too precious to squander by failing to fix this problem."
education  reform  testing  edreform  policy  basketball  metaphor  johnsener  politics  arneduncan  standardizedtesting  learning  2011 
march 2011 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Why is China the model rather than Finland?
"Finland, an egalitarian, democratic, & socialist nation can not be allowed to be model, in our leaders' eyes. That would suggest much about America is wrong in ways which would threaten everything from Bill Gates' fortune to place of privilege in future held by Obama's daughters.

If Finland is allowed to be a model it might mean that the US would need to accept social mobility, & the children & grandchildren of NYTimes editorial & corporate employees would no longer be guaranteed admission to elite schools. If Finland is a model, there's a chance for all to succeed, which means that both the achievement gap & income gap might close.

How much better for the ruling elite to celebrate hierarchical, brutally divided societies where "the little people" have no voice and no influence?

So American "leaders" look to China now* as they did to Soviet Union in 1958 & Prussian Empire in 1858 because they want education to fail most children, because they want society to remain as it is."
edreform  policy  finland  china  1958  1858  2011  publicschools  socialism  egalitarianism  billgates  barackobama  arneduncan  education  politics  hierarchy  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  society  capitalism  havesandhavenots  prussia  deschooling  unschooling  stasis  change  gamechanging  irasocol  money  class 
march 2011 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: The Big Lies (Part One)
"standardized testing measures compliance…

In order to have a standardized test, you must have a single view of what something means…Not only that, you must have a single idea of what human development means at a fixed point.

What standardized testing measures is how a student complies with a fictional human "average" built according to the expectations of a societal elite…

This sounds nice, a single standard, that "high expectations for all" newspeak phrase. But what it means is that your children - not born rich to two parents with doctorates from Ivy League schools, raised with multigenerational support and in small-class-size private schools - will never be able to catch up or keep up.

Measuring human growth & development is not like measuring the reproduction of a single prototype on an assembly line. It is a complex system of helping to figure out where a student is, and how to help them get where they are going."
innovation  assessment  competition  edreform  reform  education  policy  rttt  nclb  standardizedtesting  testing  standards  standardization  2011  publicschools  humandevelopment  irasocol  learning  measurement  compliance  unschooling  deschooling  schools 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Hechinger Report | What can we learn from Finland?: A Q&A with Dr. Pasi Sahlberg [Director General of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation in Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture]
"There’s no evidence globally that doing more of the same [instructionally] will improve results. An equally relevant argument would be, let’s try to do less. Increasing time comes from the old industrial mindset. The important thing is ensuring school is a place where students can discover who they are and what they can do. It’s not about the amount of teaching and learning."

"Most educational ideas that we are employing are initially from the U.S. They’re American innovations done in a Finnish way. You know, in the United States, there are more than enough ideas, there’s superior knowledge about educational change and you speak a language that has global reach. If you want to learn something from Finland, it’s the implementation of ideas. It’s looking at education as nation-building. We have very carefully kept the business of education in the hands of educators."

"It’s very difficult to use this [value-added] data to say anything about the effectiveness of teachers."
education  teaching  edreform  finland  reform  learning  policy  unions  valueadded  nationbuilding  industrialeducation  time  moreofthesame  qualityoverquantity  us  via:cervus  lcproject 
december 2010 by robertogreco
t r u t h o u t | Lessons to Be Learned From Paulo Freire as Education Is Being Taken Over by the Mega Rich
"critical pedagogy insists that one of fundamental tasks of educators is to make sure future points way to a more socially just world in which critique & possibility—in conjunction w/ the values of reason, freedom & equality—function to alter grounds upon which life is lived. Though it rejects notion of literacy as transmission of facts or skills tied to latest market trends, critical pedagogy is hardly prescription for political indoctrination as advocates of standardization & testing often insist. It offers students new ways to think & act creatively & independently…educator's task…"is to encourage human agency, not mold it in manner of Pygmalion." What critical pedagogy does insist upon is that education cannot be neutral. It is always directive in attempt to enable students to understand larger world & their role in it…inevitably deliberate attempt to influence how & what knowledge, values, desires & identities are produced w/in particular sets of class & social relations."
paulofreire  education  politics  pedagogy  criticalpedagogy  democracy  edreform  teaching  learning  lcproject  schools  class  human  humanagency  creativity  independence  criticalthinking  unschooling  deschooling  freedom  equality  reason  justice  society  2010  reform  money  wealth  influence 
november 2010 by robertogreco

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